CENTERVILLE—The city is getting ready to put on its Christmas finery.
Centerville City is kicking off the holiday season with their annual Festival of Lights, set for Nov. 27 at 6 p.m. at William R. Smith Park (formerly Founder’s Park). The event features music, refreshments, a visit from Santa, and the chance to see the park light up for Christmas.
“The mayor will welcome everyone and turn on all the Christmas lights,” said Centerville Parks and Recreation Director Bruce Cox. “It looks beautiful.”
In addition to the visit from Santa Claus, the festival includes performances from various school groups. Choirs from both Jennie P. Stewart Elementary and Centerville Jr. High will perform, along with a social holiday treat from another group of local elementary school students.
"We have a little ukulele group who has learned some Christmas songs," said Cox.
Hot chocolate and cookies will be available for all attendees, and for those who want even more sweet treats the Centerville City Youth Council will also hold a charity bake sale that night.
“They donate all the baked goods, and all the proceeds go toward the Sub for Santa project they do each year,” he said.
This year’s park display is all LED mini lights, and for the first time the parks and recreation department has tallied just how many have been used to light up the park. There are 89,500 lights in the trees, and an extra 500 in silhouettes positioned around the park. Taken all together, they’re Cox’s favorite part of the festival.
“They’re just so much fun,” he said.
The lights will be lit nightly through New Year’s, coming on at 5 p.m. and turning off at midnight. For anyone who’s more of a morning person, however, Centerville has made special accommodations for them as well.
“They turn back on at 5 a.m., then back off again at 8 a.m.,” said Cox. “That way, people can drive by and see them in the morning.”
The Festival of Lights, and the month of lights that follow, are longstanding holiday traditions for the city.
“This is my 18th year doing it, so it’s been going on for a long time,” he said. “It’s easily been 30 years.”
Despite the years, however, the Centerville lights have kept up with technology in order to save on energy bills and make the experience even better for residents.
“We’ve been changing out the older incandescents to LEDs, so the costs have dropped dramatically,” he said. “The colors are so much brighter, and there are so many fewer repairs.”
William R. Smith Park is located at 300 N. 100 East in Centerville. Parking is available nearby.