NATURE'S COASTAL HOLIDAY ATTENDANCE DOWN

January 02, 2001 11:00 pm

The fourth annual Natures Coastal Holiday at Azalea Park drew 13,613 visitors down 905 from last year.

The amount of money raised was also down this year compared to last year $13,889 compared to $14,733. (These receipts included gate receipts, donation jar and the sale of postcards. Donations of money from individuals and businesses are not included.)

Organizers of the annual light display, which ran from Dec. 8 through New Years Eve, offered a variety of reasons for the drop in attendance, from a power failure one evening to several rainy nights.

I think higher gas prices may have affected attendance a bit, said Ken Raith, South Coast Inn Bed and Breakfast, one of the primary organizers.

But the weather was the main reason, Im sure, he added.

Attendance was still good, Raith said, but nothing like last years Christmas Eve when balmy weather and a visit from Santa Claus lured 1,378 visitors to the light festival.

Last year the bad weather came while we were setting it up. It was just the reverse this year, Raith said.

Even so, attendance was more than 3,500 higher than the second annual light festival in 1998.

Scores of volunteers annually give of their time, talent, creativity and money to create a holiday wonderland in the park.

Volunteers have donated hundreds of hours to string lights on trees and shrubbery, decorate sculptures of birds, sharks, whales and other creatures, provide security, offer entertainment and host evenings during the festival.

Volunteers who work on the light festival earn $1 per hour for their favorite charities.

Businesses and individuals annually contribute thousands of dollars to the light festival organization, which last year gave more than $10,000 to community programs. Donations can still be sent to Natures Coastal Holiday, 516 Redwood Street, Brookings, OR 97415.

The light festival, the creation of Keith Pepper and Olivia Abbott, was inspired by Shore Acres State Park near Charleston.