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It was a record-breaking year for Danville Parks and Recreation’s Community Holiday Light Show; 2,550 cars and 31 buses carrying an estimated 9,600 people visited Ballou Park during the 15-night event while more than 2,000 photos of Santa were taken.
“We had hoped this event would grow steadily and we were pleasantly surprised with the turnout this season,” said event organizer Lisa Ferguson. “Last year we had around 1,600 cars and several slow nights. This year a slow night for us was close to 100 cars and there were only a few nights like that. We can’t wait to see what happens next year.”
The light show started in 2014 and has steadily grown since. This year’s event included discount nights and a horse-drawn sleigh one night.
“Each year we try to add to it,” Ferguson said. “With so much support from the community, we can keep growing the show. We have some exciting ideas for 2017 and look forward to working with all of our builders and volunteers and hopefully pick up a few new groups and displays by then.”
Each year, the displays in the show are built by volunteers, organizations, civic groups and families. There is no cost to enter a display. Builders have the opportunity, however, to earn money for an organization or non-profit of their choosing. Each display is entered into the best of show contest and visitors to the park cast votes for their favorite displays. A portion of the proceeds is awarded as prize money to the top-vote getters.
This year’s winners included Old Dutch building for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, first place; Riverbend Fire Department building for Riverbend Fire Department, second place; Goodyear building for United Way of Danville-Pittsylvania County, third place; and Team Pansies building for American Cancer Society, fourth place.
Volunteer groups working the gate and directing traffic also earn money for their organization.
“This event is called the Community Holiday Light Show for a good reason,” said Danville Parks and Recreation Director Bill Sgrinia. “Everything from building displays to working the gates relies heavily on some type of community involvement. There is no way this event could happen without our friends and neighbors lending a hand. We are proud of the efforts of everyone involved and want to extend our sincerest gratitude to everyone involved.”
Planning for the 2017 show will begin in the upcoming months and Ferguson is encouraging prospective builders to commit to the event early in order for Parks and Recreation to begin planning locations and power needs.
“The one rule we have is: no inflatables; displays can be hand-made or store-bought,” Ferguson said. “We have everything from Relay for Life teams and families to major corporations getting involved. We’d love to see more and more groups help fill the park.”
Interested builders can call the Danville Welcome Center at 434-793-4636 to sign up for the light show. There is no cost to build. Volunteer groups interested in working the gates and directing traffic can also register at the Welcome Center. Eligible groups must consist of 10 or more volunteers and all members should be 16 or older.
Danville Parks and Recreation wishes to thank you to this year’s builders (in order of display sites) Goodyear, Averett University Athletics, Piedmont Credit Union, Central Boulevard Church of God, Danville-Pittsylvania Habitat for Humanity, Sandy's Angels Relay for Life Team, URW Community Federal Credit Union, Fraternal Order of Eagles Piedmont Aerie 4420, Pansies - American Cancer Society, Riveroak Church of God, Riverbend Volunteer Fire Department, Old Dutch Supermarket - West Main, E.A. Gibson Student Government Association, Trophy and Sign Center and Danville Register and Bee.
The Recreation Department would also like to say thank you to this year’s gate workers (in order of night worked) Sandy’s Angels, Danville/Pittsylvania County Out of Darkness Suicide Prevention, GWHS Baseball Booster Club, Christ Temple Apostolic Church, Tunstall Middle School Climate Control, E.A. Gibson Student Government Association, GWHS Band Booster Club, Brosville United Methodist Church, Team Pansies - American Cancer Society, Central Boulevard Church of God, Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, Riverbend Volunteer Fire Department, Central Boulevard Church of God Youth, and Riverview Rotary