The inaugural Community Holiday Light Show opened Monday in Ballou Park. Despite a great opening night, the event was successful before the first car ever entered the park.
“This show was built by the community, for the community, what could be more successful than that?” asked Lisa Ferguson, Special Recreation Division Director for Danville Parks and Recreation.
The light show has been on the wish list for Ferguson and her staff for a while, but creating the displays that are popular in other communities are costly and were out of reach because of the price tag.
“The only way we could make this show was through the community,” Ferguson said. “We didn’t know what to expect when we put it out there. It was amazing to see these groups get behind the idea and build such great displays.”
More than 15 community groups built displays for the show and erected everything from Clark Griswold’s house to a winter wonderland and everything in between.
Gwen Rowland, manager of Old Dutch Supermarket, spent four hours one Sunday to set up her display.
“It was a lot of fun building it,” she said. “I actually took graphing paper and drew it out.”
Rowland and a crew of three put together a dining room complete with a table featuring a holiday ham and turkey and a fire place.
She added that she enjoyed being involved.
“I (wanted to do a display) because I thought it would be something fun to do, and since it’s a community event and we are just down the road from the park, we thought it would be great to get involved.”
During the show, each group who built a display will be competing to earn a portion of the gate on behalf of a charity of their choice. Rowland chose St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the Alzheimer’s Association.
In all, there are 15 groups competing. Visitors to the show vote on their favorites. Currently, the display from American Cancer Society – Team Pansie is leading the votes. Rowland and company are tied for second with Fraternal Order of Eagles.
There is already excitement for next year.
“Some of the groups are already making plans,” Ferguson said. “They keep saying ‘just wait to see what we come up with next year.’”
Ferguson added that as long as groups commit to building displays, Parks and Recreation will host the event.
Not only did community groups build the displays, groups also volunteered to work the show.
On Monday, a group from Brosville United Methodist Church worked the gate.
“They did an outstanding job,” Ferguson said. “They had around 25 volunteers and pretty much ran the show.”
Each night, a group will work the event. A portion of the gate’s proceeds will go to the group. A full schedule is available on www.PlayDanvilleVA.com.
The show is open nightly from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The cost includes $7 per vehicle.
Along with the display, Parks and Recreation will host Santa Dec. 16- 20 in Ballou Nature Center. The cost of admission to the show includes admission to Santa’s workshop, where the youngsters can enjoy free photos with Santa, hot chocolate and other holiday activities.