MURRAY – Murray’s Central Park will welcome the public tomorrow night as The Murray Bank Festival of Lights opens for the Christmas season.
Parks Director Ryan Yates said the light display – which will be open from 5-10 p.m. Nov. 27 through Jan. 2 – is one of the many traditions that make Murray and Calloway County special.
“You can drive through each night and see something different,” Yates said. “We’re always adding and subtracting, so even if you went through last year, we’ve added so many new things this year that you’ll be blown away by them.”
The park asks people coming through to make a monetary donation or donate some non-perishable food items.
“The non-perishables go back to Need Line and Soup for the Soul, and we also put some of it in the local blessing boxes,” Yates said. “We have a blessing box in the park that we also help fill up during that time too because during the holidays, it can be a tough time, so we want to do anything we can do to help. Then the monetary donations actually go back into the Christmas show. … We use that money to send some of the displays down to Florida in March to get them restrung and (convert them from fluorescent to LED lights).”
Yates thanked The Murray Bank for sponsoring the event and all the other businesses involved that make it possible. He also thanked Maintenance Supervisor Steve Wilhelm and the rest of the park staff – Latasha Shanklin, Tonya Kendall, Zack Lewis and Jake Willis – for their hard work setting up all the display pieces. He said they do such an impressive and professional job that some people from out of town have assumed the display must be outsourced.
“Two years ago, a publication called and they were just blown away by the Christmas show,” Yates said. “They said, ‘This is awesome! We didn’t know you did this here. Who do you hire to come in and put this up?’ I said, ‘It’s in-house. Our staff of three to four people put that up, and they start in October.’”
Carol Lane, the park’s sales and marketing representative, sells all the park displays to businesses, Yates said. Each year, she also makes an effort to approach new businesses to get them to participate, so Yates said the Festival of Lights also could not happen without her.
Yates also mentioned that annual public walk-through of the light display will be Dec. 9.