News / Arts & Entertainment

Huge Display of Lights Brings Out Christmas Spirit in US

Huge Display of Lights Brings Out Christmas Spirit in USi
X
December 12, 2013 8:21 PM
For many families in the United States, taking a drive to see local light decorations during the Christmas holiday is an annual tradition. One of the most spectacular in the Washington area features more than one million lights. VOA’s Deborah Block takes us to dazzling displays at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Deborah Block
For many families in the United States, taking a drive to see local light decorations during the Christmas holiday is an annual tradition. One of the most spectacular in the Washington area features more than one million lights. Dazzling displays are lighting up the night sky at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

There’s a surprise around every corner. More than 400 displays, including candy canes, elves and animals illuminate the four-kilometer drive.

Kimberly Stewart is seeing the lights for the first time.

I’m excited. I can hardly wait! I love Christmas; everything about it,” she said.

The displays are both small and large. Martha Henderson, who is 85 years old, did not want to miss any of them.

“I just want to have the spirit of Christmas, and this makes me feel real great," she said. "In case I don’t see another Christmas, at least I’ve been here this time.”

Winter Festival

The Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park began 27 years ago. The charge to see the lights is $5 per vehicle and the money is used to cover the cost of the displays. Visitors may also donate canned food for local food banks.

Festival organizer Kathy Garrity said the number of scenes have increased over the years, making this the largest drive-through illuminated Christmas display in the Washington area. It’s a gift to the community, but it’s also a way of giving back to the community. Families can be together in their nice, warm car. They don’t have to worry about the weather.”

So who is in the weather, directing the traffic for the thousands of cars meandering through the twinkling lights? Wooden soldiers!

Nicole Bartels and her family are especially looking forward to seeing the big Christmas tree covered with lights.

“It’s really starting to be a tradition of ours, and the kids love it. We always put on some Christmas music and drive through," said Bartels.

Jerell Alexander grew up near the park and recalls the joy of seeing the lights when he was a child. Now he lives in Virginia and is bringing his fiancé’s children.

“I’ve come out here for years and years. I have many family members who love this place,” he said.

Vickie Lopez has been working at the seasonal lights display for 25 years.

"I used to bring my kids through them when they were small. Now my kids bring their kids,” she said.

Family affair

As he takes money and donations, Donald Sutherland said it warms his heart to see the same families year after year.

“I watched the kids come through as babies, and I watched them grow up. That gives me that spirit watching them enjoy coming to the lights every year,” he said.

Besides enjoying the displays, Jodie Johnson donates cans of food for the needy.

“It’s very important that we help our community in any way that we can," she said. "So it’s something that’s really well needed.”

David Bishop said, for him, donating food represents the real meaning of Christmas.

“It’s the right thing to do, to always give back and help other people,” he said.

But for the kids, it’s all about having fun. Three-year-old Michael, 3, had his favorite.

“The dinosaur,” he said.

Perhaps this boy summed up the experience best after his visit.

“It was awesome,” he said.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”