WHEELING – Fireworks, an adult-sized light switch and halls adorned with holly, lights and more hosted the Oglebay Park Festival of Lights in Wheeling on Thursday night.
Santa himself threw the oversized switch to rekindle the festive filaments, flanked by sparklers as fireworks shot into the sky behind him, surrounded by laughing children and an enthusiastic crowd of onlookers.
The Festival of Lights, now in its 36th year, drew over a million visitors last year during the holiday season, starting shortly after Halloween and ending in early January. The attraction consists of a six mile ride through approximately 300 acres of Oglebay land. This year’s event was sponsored by WesBanco.
At the reception just before the lights, Wheeling Park Commission Chairman Bob Peckenpaugh was delighted to announce several new features for the annual attraction, which now boasts more than 90 screens.
Aside from the large, highly visible welcome tree – a 70-foot lighted tree visible across the park – Peckenpaugh said a number of displays have been upgraded with sound elements, for those who wish to lower their windows and weather the cold to get the full experience.
In addition, the nursery has undergone more than 100 hours of renovation work. The life-size figures, dressed in Israeli cloth, have been moved inside the Carriage House gift shop.
Peckenpaugh said the Festival of Lights reflected a lot more work than it immediately appears, consisting of roughly 20,000 man-hours of work between October 1 and April 30, setting up and taking down the dozens of postings, with several other full-time employees. time.
Eriks Janelsins, President of the Oglebay Foundation, thanked WesBanco for his support, which he attributes to his financial security over the past two very uncertain years.
“This has allowed these parks not only to last, but to thrive. Your phone calls, emails, texts and work all day and night has kept the Oglebay team always open to locals, ”he said.
Chris Criss, Chairman of the WesBanco Board of Directors, thanked Oglebay and the Town of Wheeling for their efforts.
“Everyone is always a big kid when it comes to Wheeling,” Criss said. “They really love Wheeling, and it’s a very important part of WesBanco’s story.”
The Festival of Lights will be lit up every night from dusk to midnight until January 9.
The Oglebay Mansion Museum, presented by the Oglebay Institute, will serve as another destination this holiday season. You can visit the historical museum and its 13 sumptuously decorated rooms during the day. At night, the monument will come alive with a lively light show, choreographed to holiday hits.
“For 36 years this has been a great event and a wonderful tradition for our local communities, and WesBanco is honored to be a long-time partner in its success. The Festival of Lights is truly one of the nation’s premier holiday festivals that brings joy to countless visitors, and we invite everyone to experience it, ”added Todd Clossin, President and CEO of WesBanco.