The Lighted Tradition

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The one-mile, lighted loop of trees and Christmas scenes, known as the Celebration of Lights, has been a part of the St. Charles community for 20 years.  The Celebration opens to the public at 6:30 p.m., which is earlier than previous years, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 30.

Every year, approximately 5,000 head to Fort Zumwalt  Park for the Celebration, all to view lighted scenes that are decorated by 22 non-profit groups.

“It is a holiday tradition for a lot of people,” O’Fallon Tourism and Festival Manager Marsha Seymour said. “It creates a lot of excitement whether you are young or old, and it’s just a lot of fun for everyone.”

Classic holiday themed scenes, such as Winter Wonderland and Santa’s Workshop, are present at the Celebration along with Angry Birds, Robotics, Peanuts and Disney themed scenes. The scenes can be viewed from cars, carriages, trains or sleigh rides.

“I like the fact that you can enjoy the scenes from the warmth of your car,” senior Abby Bounds said. “It takes a while to get through it because of all the people, but it’s really pretty.”

This year, the annual walk-through night for the Celebration took place on Dec. 13. Instead of vehicle traffic, the park closed down for pedestrians only, offering people the opportunity to walk through and look through the scenes.

“I love watching the little kids coming through,”   participant Helen Maxfield said. “They are so happy, and they love the lights.”

In order for the Celebration to be ready for opening night, planning began in early October. The plans included ordering new lights as needed, deciding the theme of the scenes and finding a team people to hang the lights. According to Seymour, these guidelines keep the Celebration looking fresh and interesting.

“We all get together to do the scenes and make them fun for everybody,” Maxfield said. “It helps everybody get in the Christmas spirit.”

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