After setting an attendance record last year, this year’s Wegmans Lights on the Lake will start a week earlier than usual in hopes of drawing an even bigger crowd. A record 38,554 vehicles drove through the show and approximately 11,500 walkers came out for the preview nights.
“Due to last year’s record-breaking attendance, we decided to give residents and visitors more opportunity to view the show,” said Robin Augello of the Onondaga County Parks Department. “And by starting a week earlier we may get milder weather for the popular pedestrian-only preview nights.”
The walk-through nights will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14 and Tuesday, Nov. 15. There will be a dog walk from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16.
“The walks are wonderful opportunity for the entire community to come out and discover the beauty of Lights on the Lake up close, while enjoying the crisp, fresh air of a Central New York evening,” Augello said. “Because of the huge popularity of the program, we added an additional walk-through night this year.”
But that’s not the only opportunity pedestrians will have to enjoy the course up close. Runners can also take part in the Lights on the Lake Run on Jan. 7, a free, out-and-back four-mile run that begins at 11 p.m. and ends at midnight. This event is for runners only, as the lights will turned off at midnight.
If you prefer the traditional driven route, there’s plenty for you and your family to enjoy this year. In addition to old favorites like the Land of Oz, the Victorian Village and Under the Sea, new displays include a stingray scene, a Jack-in-the-Box and an animated, multi-piece lacrosse scene with two of the players in orange. All new scenes use LED lights, bringing the total percentage of the display in LED lights to 24.
And Wegmans Lights on the Lake will continue to provide entertainment once Christmas is over. The display and Onondaga Lake Park will be home to First Night CNY on Saturday, Dec. 31. Starting at 5 p.m., the family-friendly event will feature walks through Lights on the Lake, live music by The New Boyz, entertainment and activities throughout the evening. The event will conclude with an orange ball drop and fireworks display over the lake at midnight. Advance sale tickets will be $5. Tickets bought the day of the event cost $8; kids 5 and under get in free.
Augello said Wegmans Lights on the Lake is a holiday tradition for many Central New York families.
“Wegmans Lights on the Lake has a become a must-see for folks from throughout the region over the last 21 years,” she said. “Adults who came to the event as children are now bringing their own children. It attracts all ages and multiple generations; everyone can enjoy some quality time together and remember what the holiday season is really all about.”
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.