WAPPAPELLO, MO (KAIT) - Finishing touches are being put on the 25th annual Festival of Lights Auto Tour at Wappapello Lake. The event is free and open to the public from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30. The Festival of Lights is open for weekends only until Dec. 9. Then, the displays will be lit nightly from dusk to 9 p.m.
"This is a special year for this event because it has been around now for 25 years," said Andrew Jefferson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "At one time Poplar Bluff had an event like this. After it went away, many of its participants became involved with this event."
The Festival of Lights features nativity scenes, inflatable blowups, wooden cutouts, holiday greeting signs, heavy machinery with chaser lights, the face of Jesus hologram and more. The Festival of Lights contains approximately 250,000 lights. Last year, more than 17,000 people came to see the displays.
"The event has evolved over the past 25 years by more folks (both businesses and churches) being involved," Jefferson said. "Especially from the Poplar Bluff and Wappapello areas. Initially, the event was held on the west side of Highway T (Redman Creek west Campground). However, it began to outgrow that location so we moved it to the east side (Redman Creek East)."
So far, 48 of the 60 sites are assigned. "We have volunteers staying in the campground to serve as security and turn lights on and off daily," Jefferson explained. "Santa will be available on Dec. 8-10 and Dec. 15-17 for photo opportunities at Redman Creek West from 5 until 9 p.m. People's Community Bank will provide hot chocolate kits and each person will also receive a candy cane. Bobber the Water Safety Dog will also be there with Santa."
People typically decorate right up through opening day. It is free to put up a display and there are prizes.
"There are monetary awards for first, second and third place in the amounts of $200, $100 and $50 and a traveling trophy," Jefferson said. "This is a golden opportunity for folks to advertise their businesses at no cost from start to finish. Normally, advertising is not allowed on federal property."
If you would like to participate, call (573) 222-8562 or email Andrew.Jefferson@usace.army.mil.
Festival of Lights Auto Tour is made possible by the partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Wappapello Lake Area Association (WLAA). This Association is two years old and is comprised of members from Butler, Wayne and Stoddard counties in Missouri.
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