Holiday in Lights no more? Why the event is ending after 31 years
Holiday in Lights, the annual drive-thru event featuring hundreds of lights on display in Sharon Woods, will not return this year.
The drive-thru light show with over a million lights and more than 250 light displays has been a winter tradition in Cincinnati for the last 31 years, as well as the accompanying 5K for 12 years.
Instead, Great Parks of Hamilton County, which hosted the event, will offer a new winter experience running Nov. 17 through Dec. 23: Holidays on the Farm at Parky’s Farm in Winton Woods. It will put a greater emphasis on interactivity while experiencing nature.
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Great Parks went through a public involvement process while coming up with its master plan, Chief Operating Officer Brett Henninger said. Of the biggest things the agency heard throughout the process were the needs for trails and “innovative programming as a gateway to nature exploration.”
Henninger also attributed the ending of Holiday in Lights to a decline in recent years and a contract expiring with the Allen Company, which previously produced the event in partnership with Great Parks.
“This was an opportunity to do something authentic,” Henninger said.
There will not be a replacement event at Sharon Woods, Henninger said, as it didn’t make sense for Great Parks to put out more than one competing event.
“The refocus on getting folks to engage with the outdoors is really a driver in the decision in a new direction,” Henninger said.
But not everyone is ready to see Holiday in Lights leave Sharon Woods.
Organizers of the event posted a message on the website, saying they were “heartbroken” to announce its ending. They also started a petition to save the event. As of Monday afternoon, more than 2,130 people had signed the “Save the Holiday in Lights 5K and Light Show at Sharon Woods” petition in support.
“Sadly, the community organizations that are beneficiaries from this event will be impacted as well,” the petition reads.