PARKERSBURG - The annual Holiday In the Park holiday lighting display at Parkersburg City Park begins with a lighting ceremony Saturday and will remain open through Dec. 31.
The ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. at the main City Park horseshoe pits where Santa Claus will be handing out candy canes.
The Holiday In the Park exhibit also includes several displays in Southwood Park off Blizzard Drive in south Parkersburg.
Roger Woollard, board member with the Holiday in the Park, said volunteers began working in late October to set up the various displays. The Holiday in the Park organization has about 40 displays this year, along with many more by different businesses, groups and organizations throughout the park.
Among the new displays this year will be Lightning McQueen, who joins second-year addition Mater, both characters from the animated "Cars" movies. This year's coloring contest for children will feature Lightning McQueen for a chance to win a $25 savings bond.
Coloring sheets can be picked up and returned at all Wood County schools from Monday to Dec. 5.
Other new exhibits will include "Peek-a-Boo Santas," the character Donkey from the "Shrek" movies, six new Nutcrackers around the City Park Pond, new arches on the track around the pond and others.
"Every year there's something new for people to see," Woollard said.
The opening ceremony will include Christmas carols by the Hamilton Middle School Choir and speeches by local dignitaries, including Lt. Eric Henry with the Parkersburg Salvation Army giving the invocation. This year's honorary chairman is Steve Cox, building and grounds superintendent with the city of Parkersburg, for his assistance and the city's assistance with the lights program, officials said.
The Parkersburg Fire Department will have one of its modern and one of its antique fire trucks available following the ceremony to give rides through the park, board member Jonelle Merritt said.
The Henry Cooper Log Cabin Museum, operated by the Centennial Chapter of the Daughters of the American Pioneers, will be open after the ceremony for no charge from 6 to 8 p.m. Punch and cookies will be available.
Built in 1804, the cabin is one of Wood County's oldest remaining homes and was moved from Elizabeth Pike in Mineral Wells in 1901. The cabin will be decorated with live pine and decorations of the period.
Local history re-enactor Patty Cooper will be portraying Lydia Cooper, whose husband Henry built the cabin. Entertainment for the evening will be The Fourth Turning with Ryan Phipps, a junior at Parkersburg High School on the cello, Nick Royce, a junior at Kingwood on the piano, and vocalist Katie Moore, a junior at PHS.
Covered wagon rides by Hardly Able Carriage Co. will be available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
, weather permitting, beginning Nov. 23 and running through Dec. 9. On Dec. 14, the company will begin offering nightly carriage rides through Christmas Eve, Merritt said.
Holiday in the Park is a collection of Christmas lighting exhibits at City Park and Southwood Park. The displays are sponsored by local groups, individuals and businesses and include a fire-breathing dragon, children playing marbles, the American flag and a fire truck. Approximately 100,000 people visit the park each year during the Holiday in the Park program, officials said.
The donation booth will be manned from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday through Sunday during the holiday season. The lights will be on from 6 to 11 p.m. every day.
Letters to Santa Claus may be addressed and put in the drop box at the City Park Pavilion. Santa will be answering each letter. Donations will also be accepted to help with the displays.