City Park lights display

JEFF BAUGHAN Special to the Times Tom the Cat chases Jerry the Mouse up a Christmas tree during Saturday's official opening of Holiday In the Park Christmas Lights display at City Park in Parkersburg.

PARKERSBURG — Saturday evening’s windy weather had people looking for more Dorothy and her little dog than Santa, but the jolly guy made it for the opening of the 23rd annual Holiday In the Park lights display at City Park.

“Another year and we’ve added a couple of new displays with a couple of more to come in after the Christmas parade,” said Steve Cox, who is the president of the Holiday In the Park committee.

“Right now there are about 150 displays throughout the park. And to just make things fun, we’ve moved a few around. I’m not telling you which ones though,” he said with a smile.

The City Park display – and the lights in Southwood Park which are also part of Holiday In the Park – will be open through Dec. 31. Visitors can walk or drive through the displays. Horse-drawn wagon rides will be featured through the season, weather permitting.

“And it is still a donation-if-you-want display,” Cox added. “You can give a donation if you want. And if you can’t, we’ll give you a candy cane anyway.”

Saturday night’s opening ceremony featured a multiple song performance by members of the Hamilton Middle School choir and a short talk from Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce.

Santa posed for pictures and handed out awards for the coloring contest. And if motorists set their FM dial to 88.1 they can hear the T-Rex roar when they pass it near the Henry Cooper Log Cabin.

“That makes it a little fun,” Cox said. “Seriously though, what is making the displays different from when we started 23 years ago is they are more detailed and the advanced technology allows us to do more with the display.”

At the end of the display is the donation booth, which Cox says is exactly what it says it is.

“Every bit of the donation goes right back into the displays and the upkeep for next year. This year we’ve bought some containers for these displays. We have to be able to store all of this.”

He added some are in need of repair, “but we don’t own those displays. The businesses who own those have to do the upkeep.”

He looked around and laughed a bit while saying “This just continues to get better every year. What we started with and what it is now, it says a lot about how the people of Parkersburg and the surrounding area enjoy it.”