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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”