LIGHTING THE PARK, 300,000 LIGHTS CREAT HIGH-VOLTAGE DISPLAY
December 19, 2003 11:00 pm
 (The Pilot/Andrea Barkan).
(The Pilot/Andrea Barkan).

Pilot story by

Andrea Barkan

Rain has not washed away the bright light emanating from this season's Nature's Coastal Holiday at Azalea Park.

In its seventh year, the event features 300,000 lights, organizer Olivia Abbott said.

For $1, anyone can walk the park pathways, surrounded by sculptures and bushes draped in multi-colored lights.

Children under 12 are admitted free.

The sculptures, which include a mermaid, elk, octopus, wolf, dragonfly and shark, were made over the years by high school students and public works employees, Abbott said.

New features this year include a 20-foot tunnel of lights, four lighted toy soldiers and four lighted candy canes, each standing about 5 feet tall, she said.

Local performers Sandy Harper and Mary Matlock will sing tonight (Dec. 20).

Santa Claus is expected to visit the park Sunday and Wednesday, she said.

Thursday was the event's biggest night yet, drawing 750 people, she said.

"Last night was a good night and opening night was another good night," Abbott said.

Opening night, Dec. 6, drew a crowd of 650.

Abbott said an average of 200 to 300 people wander through the exhibit each night.

Abbott and about 25 volunteers set up Nature's Coastal Holiday in a week, she said.

Nature's Coastal Holiday will continue everyday from 5 to 9 p.m. until Dec. 28.