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Winterfest of Lights takes over Ocean City

Lights+lit+up+the+park+as+the+train+took+you+on+a+ride+complete+with+music+for+each+light+show.
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Winterfest of Lights takes over Ocean City

Lights lit up the park as the train took you on a ride complete with music for each light show.

Lights lit up the park as the train took you on a ride complete with music for each light show.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Lights lit up the park as the train took you on a ride complete with music for each light show.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Lights lit up the park as the train took you on a ride complete with music for each light show.

Lydia Woodley, Guest Writer

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Families stand outside the Winterfest of Lights tent at Northside Park to take part in the festivities and fun. A 50-foot Christmas tree greets people as they arrive. Bright string lights line everything in a palette of red, green, and blue. All over, people are smiling; whether they are getting ready for the tram ride through the light displays, getting a cup of hot chocolate or taking part in the many festive activities.  

Winterfest began on Nov. 15 and will close on Dec. 31. It is open from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and from 5:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The tickets are free for children 11 years of age or younger and $5 for anyone aged 12 or older. Profits from this event go into the Ocean City’s general fund and support next year’s activities.  

Frank Miller, the Director of Ocean City’s Special Events Department, shared what exactly goes into making the unique experience it has come to be, stating, “Ocean City’s Winterfest is unlike anything else near us.” Even though most towns already have some sort of light display for people to enjoy, what really sets Ocean City apart is the use of trams that are synchronized to music. The town’s use of trams lets people just, “ride the tram and relax,” as Miller puts it. Along with the trams, the Christmas tree at the front of the tent is brand new. For the first time ever, the tree is equipped with 8,000 bright LED lights that move to the beat of holiday music playing from speakers that are inside of the structure.  

With an event so big, it takes a great deal of lights, about 800,000 to be exact, to illuminate the outdoor holiday displays that cover 58 acres along the ride. Combine that with the lights inside, and that adds up to almost a million bulbs. Every year between 5,000 and 6,000 lights need to be replaced.  

The lights have certainly changed since the beginning of Winterfest, as they are now high-tech LED lights. These new lights have brighter color, higher quality, last longer, and, as a bonus for the town, they are less expensive than traditional bulbs.  

While the lights are a big part of Winterfest, it still would not be complete without all its other features. One of these features is the OC Booster’s hot chocolate stand, where visitors can buy a warm drink and snack. “Kris Kringle’s Corner” is a long-standing part of the event where generations of children have stopped to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus for a picture and to drop off letters into the mailbox outside to be delivered to the North Pole. Sophomore Emily Stitely recalled how her family has always taken picture with Santa, a part of Christmas she always looks forwards to. At various locations inside the tent, visitors can find “Instagram Hotspots,” interactive setups meant for people to capture precious memories. Local businesses such as Candy Kitchen and Ripley’s Believe it or Not sponsor these Instagram Hotspots.  

Winterfest is an important part of the holiday for many locals. Senior Emily Malinowski has been going to to the festival with her family since she was two years old. “I love how timeless and traditional it is and how it puts visitors in the Christmas spirit,” she told The Hawk.

Putting all of this together is no easy feat, but for the pleasure the event brings to thousands of cheerful guests, it is worth it.  

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Winterfest of Lights takes over Ocean City