2013-11-21 / Front Page

Display To Light Up Christmas

“Festival of Lights” planned for fairgrounds
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

NEWS EDITOR

Reminiscing about the times he spent taking in the festive displays and elaborate decorations at Hershey Park as well as Lakemont Park in Altoona, local resident Shain Mellott began to ponder why a similar project couldn’t be undertaken locally to help unite the community this upcoming holiday season.

Mellott recently posed that same question to the membership and board of directors of the Fulton County Fair Association and Grease, Steam and Rust Association. To Mellott’s delight, the response from the organizations was not only that it could be done, but that it will be done. On Friday, December 13, the “Fulton County Festival of Lights” will be unveiled to the general public at the Fulton County Fairgrounds starting at 5 p.m.

Motorists will be able to wind through the light display that will be set up throughout the midway area for a nominal fee of $2, according to Mellott, who added that once all bills and expenses from the event are covered, any remaining proceeds will be donated back to the community.

Mellott stated vehicle occupants will be given a voting or tally sheet as they enter the fairgrounds. Each person seeing the festival of lights firsthand will be given the opportunity to cast one vote for their favorite light display in each of the categories that include churches, civic organizations, school groups, businesses and families. Voting sheets will be collected as the vehicles exit the fairgrounds.

The Festival of Lights will run through 10 p.m. on December 13 and again from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. the following evening, December 14. Ribbons will be awarded to winners at the conclusion of the second night of the event.

Only 1-1/2weeks into this project, Mellott told the “News” that to date two churches and 12 businesses have announced interest in participating in this first-ever light display. Hopeful for good participation as well as a good turnout from the viewing community, Mellott said the deadline to register to participate has been set for December 1.

Displays can be as simple as a lighted sign for a church, civic organization, school, business or family wishing the community a Merry Christmas or participants can “go all out and over the top.” Suggestions include nativity scenes or any other Christmas setting with lights or music. Mellott added vehicles ranging from lawn mowers and tractors to dump trucks and man lifts can be decorated to the hilt as a display.

Mellott said it is recommended that each light display be powered by a “quiet” generator as only limited slots on the grounds have access to power. Some displays located side-by-side can share a generator, but necessary arrangements must be made through event organizers.

A $25 fee will be charged for each space to help cover the costs associated with putting on the festival of lights.

To help round out the event, Santa Claus and his elves are tentatively scheduled to be at the 4- H rabbit barn to greet youngsters as well as those just young at heart. An array of goodies such as coffee, hot chocolate, cookies, oranges, candy canes and popcorn balls have already been secured to distribute. A fire ring or yule log may also be available for the little ones to make s’mores or roast marshmallows.

“Shain hit it on the head when he proposed this as a community project,” said GSR member Paul Schmidt. “We can try and get back to things we used to see in the Christmas season. It will hopefully remind people what Christmas is all about.”

Residents or groups interested in participating or donating lights, decorations or other working items are urged to contact Mellott by December 1 by calling 717-658- 6580.

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