Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 8, 2013

Switch flipped for season on popular holiday attraction

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

ASHLAND — The light displays have all been turned off in Central Park until next year.

The Winter Wonderland of Lights festival officially came to a close on Sunday night, when workers flipped the switch for the last time. City workers in Ashland have already begun disassembling the displays in the park and throughout downtown, a process expected to run through January.

Jeff Burns, a maintenance worker with Ashland’s Recreation and Parks Department, turned the lights off Sunday night. Burns has been turning the displays on and off for the last 13 years as part of his evening shift duties in the park.

The process takes from 45 minutes to an hour, he said. “We go out around 4 p.m. and start turning them on, then at 11 p.m. we start turning them off,” he said.

From a worker’s standpoint, this year’s festival went well with fewer electrical problems.

“Now that they went to all the LED lights, they can put more on a breaker box with less cords and they draw less power,” Burns said. He noted rain is the biggest troublemaker for the festival, but the LED bulbs have even improved that and cut the time it takes to flip all the switches.

WWOL chairman Marion Russell said there have been more than a few comments about the new LED lights — and not just from workers.

Visitors, he said, have remarked how much they like them, too.

The light displays were viewed by more than ever this year, said Russell. Although there is no exact count, volunteers estimate more than 7,000 either visited Santa and/or took a train ride in the park each weekend of the seven-week festival. Thousands more likely walked the park or drove around it.

“We had an excellent year,” Russell said. “We had more visitors this year, and over the last two years it has increased tremendously.

“We do appreciate all the visitors and the support we have from the community and the surrounding areas. To me it was a tremendous success this year.”

WWOL is a project of the Ashland Alliance.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.