Looking for a little holiday cheer? Look no further than Onondaga Lake Park.
The park will once again be alight with some 600,000 holiday lights starting last week. Lights on the Lake kicked off its 19th season with its annual free walk through Monday Nov. 24.
“This is the fourth year for the walk-through,” said Robin Augello from Onondaga County Parks. “The Walk Thru Lights was created to promote health and wellness by providing families an opportunity to see Lights on the Lake in a new way.”
Cars began to drive through the display Tuesday night. The display will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. every night from Nov. 25 to Jan. 4. Admission is $8 per car ($6 per car on Monday and Tuesday nights with Shoppers Club Card from Wegmans).
This year, joining favorites like the Victorian Village, Under the Sea, Wild World of Sports, Santa’s Workshop, Land of Oz, Holiday Circus and Rock Bottom are new LED “Trees of Lights” in the Fantasy Forest.
“New blue and white LED trees have been added to Fantasy Forest to create a more magical feel,” Augello said. “[We’ve also added] a juggling dragon named Cecil in the Grand Finale section.”
Lights on the Lake is “the top holiday attraction in Central New York,” Augello said. Last year, 35,006 vehicles drove through the park to enjoy the lights. That’s the third highest number of vehicles since the display started in 1990 (the most was 36,922 in 2001). Private promoter DIRT Enterprises put together the Holiday Lights exhibition 17 years ago. It included only white lights and the displays, which were stationary, were not much larger than those at surrounding residences. The following year, local businessmen John and Pat Brandano partnered with Onondaga County Parks to put together a larger, more colorful and mobile display.
In 2000, the parks department bought the display and took over running the show. The event has grown in size and popularity over the years, even being featured on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in December of 2001. This year’s display is larger than ever.
Since its inception, some 2,600,000 people have driven or walked through the display.
Visitors will be glad to know that, for the first week of the display, the price they pay for admission goes to a good cause. All funds collected will go to the Friends of Historic Onondaga Lake for their “New Onondaga Lake Adventure.” The Onondaga Lake Adventure is a community initiative to transform Onondaga Lake into an interactive destination.
In addition to the light display, drivers can tune their radios to Sunny 102 (102.1) to enjoy Christmas music. The display is presented by Wegmans, National Grid and Verizon FiOS.
Truly, Lights on the Lake is the most anticipated holiday event in Central New York.
“We have become part of a tradition in many families,” Augello said. “Folks tell us the holidays wouldn’t be the same without at least one trip through Lights on the Lake.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.