Celebration of Lights open for drivers on Saturday

Jingle Bell Fun Run/Walk set for Friday.

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The City of Pampa’s Celebration of Lights officially opens up for drivers on Saturday, but on Friday there will be a Jingle Bell Fun Run/Walk for those who would like an early look at the decorations.

“The people who walk and run get the first look, as it’s a fundraiser for it,” City of Pampa Community Services Director, Dustin Miller said. “People can still sign up, but they may not be guaranteed the right size of shirt for it. But they are still welcome to participate.”

The Park will open for the run/walk from 6 to 7 p.m with a 5K route marked for those wanting to participate. Cost is $25 and those looking to register can call the City of Pampa at 806-669-5750.

This is the fifth year the Celebration of Lights has returned to Pampa and Miller said preparing for the annual celebration is a year-round project.

“You can’t just start in September and October and get ready,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of programming and design work behind the scenes. A lot of the design, layout and mental prep you have to start thinking about in January or February.”

Miller said there are a lot of new animated displays on the circle drive, some new wooden features and some additions to the light-show on the tree display.

“Last year we added to the RGB pixelated tree,” Miller said. “This year we even expanded on that. I don’t want to give it all away but when you pull up to it you’re going to think it’s pretty cool.”

There is a little bit of a balancing act of new and old when it comes to adding to the displays.

“We’re probably as sentimental as they come,” Miller said. “So if it’s salvageable and old, we want it. We don’t get rid of stuff unless it just dies. There’s a hot air balloon that’s from the original lights. Just changing the light-bulbs to LED so we could plug it in, cost about $1,600. It’s hard to save some stuff but we do our best.”

The Celebration of Lights is a very volunteer-driven activity ever year, but Miller said they are never short on people.

“It wouldn’t happen without those people and I try to make it a point to tell them that every night,” Miller said. “Some people win the lottery and get a 50 or 60-degree night and some people lose it and get the 10 or 20-degree nights. But those people never balk. They show up, are bundled up and greet people with a smile to welcome them to the Park.”

Miller added they haven’t even had to advertise for volunteers, they just call and ask when they can help. Those interested in volunteering can call the City of Pampa.

The Celebration of Lights starts Nov. 27 and will continue through Dec. 31. There are several events throughout the period including Sleigh Rides (Friday, Saturday, Sundays), Santa Claus (Friday, Dec. 3), Live reindeer (Saturday, Dec. 18), Briarwood Live Nativity (Saturday, Dec. 18) and more. Events will be announced on the Celebration of Light’s Facebook page. The Celebration of Lights is free, but donations are encouraged.

“That’s what separates our park (from others),” Miller said. “It’s a free service. Sometimes people may feel embarrassed they didn’t donate but it’s not about that at all. We just want the families to go out and have something fun to do. Even if people just gave change they would be shocked how far that change can go.”

Those interested in donating can donate at the park or through their water bill.

“It’s not something that’s automatically done,” Miller said. “They can sign up for the $1 parks donation. A dollar a month can be added to your water bill that will go into a fund that’s strictly for the Celebration of Lights.”

For more information, call 806-669-5750.

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