Since 1997, the Festival of Lights, a month-long holiday light show, has been a favorite holiday tradition unique to the Brookings area.
From just 20,000 lights strung in the bushes along the pathways in ‘97, this year the Festival is set to boast over 2 million LED lights.
“It’s our goal this year to be seen from the Space Station,” Nature’s Coastal Holiday secretary Susan Dunn said. “We want to really put Azalea Park on the map and make it the best show ever!”
The nonprofit Nature’s Coastal Holiday partners with the community to string the holiday light.
“First, we need to get the lights strung in the bushes," Dunn said. "That happens November 2. We meet at the Kids Town parking lot at 9 a.m. with open arms to welcome all the people who answer our call to help.”
Nature’s Coastal Holiday traditionally invites the public to 'String the Joy' the first Saturday of November. It is a rain or shine call to help and kicks off decorating the park.
“There’s so much to do and the public is how it gets done," Dunn said. "Without their help that day, we will fall short of our goal. In just four hours, we can have the job done."
Dunn said the “String the Joy” is a special moment for many people.
“I personally love doing it," she said. "My husband and I meet some great people and love to watch the kids dig in and help.”
“There are a few people who have shown up each year to help," Susan's husband Terry Dunn said. "They tell me it’s how they kick off their holidays. Others come because they are new to the area and want to feel like part of the community. Still others are here because they know how much effort goes into it and want to help.”
"On November 2, we begin filling in areas with a few more lights," Susan said. "Then there’s the Dancing Arches and Mega Tree display followed by all the rest.. a full month of decorating.”
The public can always help out during the month according to Susan and Terry.
“We would love the extra hands," Susan said. "There’s only 13 of us on the Board so any help is appreciated. Just ask us when you see us in the park.”
Terry said, an hour here and there can really make a difference.
“Most of us are retired and aren’t the spring chickens we use to be” he said.
Susan said there will be new displays and, "a few surprises but we aren’t talking about it until after we get closer to opening day on November 29th," she said.
“We are just focused on having the community help on November 2nd," Terry said. "I’m hoping for 200 people here that day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. full of the holiday spirit.”
Nature’s Coastal Holiday “String the Joy” is November 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meet at the Kid’s Town parking lot at Azalea Park. No special skills are required. For more information follow Nature’s Coastal Holiday Brookings on Facebook, check their website, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.