BELPRE - For 22 years people throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley have enjoyed looking at the festive holiday lights displays throughout Belpre.
"We've been designing, building and putting up the lights displays for 22 years and every year it gets bigger and better," said organization president Darien Lorentz.
The lighting displays, which include poinsettia, angels and a carousel, all made of colored strings of lights with metal frames, are added to each year with 11 new displays this year.
"Not only have we built the new ones this year, we have also repaired and rebuilt about 30 of the older ones," Lorentz said. "We're already thinking about next year."
The new displays include gingerbread people, snare drums playing, a spinning top, pogo sticks and a new logo sign.
The popular holiday lights displays are currently being placed around the city, in parks, along roadways and on buildings. About 30 percent of the displays are animated with lighted movement and often tell a story.
Some displays are staples in certain spots in throughout the area such as the carousel's placement in Civitan Park but others are moved around each year to allow people to see all of the lights the committee has made.
"The lights are moved to different spots each year," Lorentz said. "We often get phone calls from people who said they noticed the new displays and those displays are several years old, we just put them in a new location."
The 18 members of the Belpre Holiday Lights Committee work 11 months each year designing, building and placing displays in their Gene Street building to be placed around the city and in Civitan and Howes Grove parks during each holiday season.
"We work all year designing and building the displays for people to enjoy during the holidays," Lorentz said. "This is really a year-round project that takes all of the members to get things done.
"We could always use more volunteers with new ideas."
The festival began in 1989 with Bob Jackson and the Belpre Woman's Club placing two dove light displays near the Belpre Bridge.
"We now have 110 displays and many of them have multiple parts, such as the carousel, which has 13 pieces, and the man fishing has three different panels," Lorentz said. "It grows every year, which is what we like."
This year's Belpre Holiday Lights Festival will begin at 6 p.m. Nov. 24 with the displays illuminating the city with holiday spirit between 6 and 11 p.m. every night through Jan. 2.
The annual Festival of Lights Parade will be held Nov. 27 at 6 p.m. and will include floats, walking groups, carolers and horses and riders from individuals and groups throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.
All participants in the parade, which is sponsored by the lights committee and coordinated by the Belpre Lions Club, are required to be illuminated with Christmas lights and reflect the holiday spirit, said committee member Nancy Sams.
"The parade is for the enjoyment of the community and is a night-time lights parade," Sams said.
Continuing with tradition, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on the last float in the parade and will greet children at the bandstand gazebo in Civitan Park immediately following the parade courtesy for the Belpre Woman's Club.
Because of the evening darkness and for the safety of all involved, the parade committee asks that all candy be handed out, not thrown to the audience, Sams warned.
There will not be Little Miss and Little Mister Christmas pageants this year.
For more information on the Belpre Holiday Lights Festival and committee, contact Lorentz at (740) 423-5067 or Sams at (740) 423-7382.