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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Paquito D'Rivera, who has won 12 Grammys, is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. D'Rivera's latest project, “Jazz Meets the Classics,” was released this month. He joins us on the latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."