Kim Hudson: Winter Wonderland of Lights helps define the season

I truly like to celebrate one holiday at a time.

Let me enjoy Halloween before thinking about Thanksgiving. And please let me enjoy Thanksgiving before thinking about Christmas.

So I have a little anxiety around this time every year when I need to talk and promote and share information about Winter Wonderland of Lights – before Thanksgiving!

I know you understand. In order for you to have the information so you can enjoy the lights, you must know about them ahead of time. And since the lighting ceremony is the Saturday after Thanksgiving that means we must talk about them now.

So while I don’t want to rush the holidays I do want to share all the exciting news — so here goes. (Before you read any further go mark your calendar for 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, Salisbury City Park.)

Winter Wonderland of Lights, the holiday lights in the City Park, became part of my family’s life nine years ago. I remember the day very clearly.

My son was in kindergarten and my daughter was just two. It was early November and I was standing in my kitchen reading the paper when I learned the funding for the lights had run out. The park would be dark. This came on the heels of other bad news for our community that year – no fireworks and the fireman’s muster had also been canceled.

I remember thinking, “Wait. This is Salisbury. We are the hub of the Eastern Shore. What is going on?”

It seemed unreal to me that our community – which was steadily growing – would lose these events. All around us smaller communities were still celebrating with lights and fireworks and such.

I felt strongly that if we let these family events, these traditions, fall by the wayside we would lose the heart of our community. So I wrote a letter to the editor and I made some phone calls and long story short – the Winter Wonderland of Lights Committee was formed, money was raised, light bulbs were changed and that following year (2006) we had lights in the park again.

Many of our light displays are over 20 years old and in desperate need of refurbishing. Last year some of the lights were deemed unsafe and others were missing wiring due to vandalism. We purchased some new lights but it just wasn’t the same. Plus we were desperately searching for a new storage facility for the displays. For years we had struggled.

So I cannot tell you how excited I am about this year. This year everything started to fall into place.

First, we found a home for the lights. Thanks to Matt Holloway they have a place to call home and we were able to work on them there.

And Chris Eccleston with Delmarva Veteran Builders had a passion to bring back Wicomico Woody. So with Chris’ help – and a team of volunteers – many of our displays have been refurbished.

That means hours and hours of work stripping the frames of their old wiring and then rewiring them with new LED lights. They look amazing. The crew has literally worked on them since August. I cannot thank them enough.

And on Saturday, Nov 29, beginning at 5, we will bring you the Winter Wonderland of Lights Lighting Ceremony.  Not to confuse you but we are working with our friends downtown this year. Some lights will be on the Courthouse lawn and Wicomico Woody will have a new home. Those displays will be lit during 3rd Friday but you will have to wait until the 29th to see all the lights in the park.

I hope you will join us on that Saturday. We have entertainment planned and there will be coffee, hot chocolate and treats for sale.

Santa always comes by to say hello and take pictures. This is a wonderful family event. You can find all the details on our Facebook page or contact me with any questions.

My kindergartener is now a high school freshman and my 2-year-old is a fifth-grader. They are the ones keeping this tradition alive.

I wish I had kept track all these years of the hours my husband, Todd, has spent on this project. He is always behind the scenes making sure it all comes together.

Even though we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into nine years ago, it’s been a great opportunity for our whole family to give back to our community.

Please join us as we light up the park this year and help us say thank you to all those who have helped make it happen.

Contact Kim Hudson at tkhudson@comcast.net.

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