Oglebay holds its 33rd annual Winter Festival of Lights
WHEELING — The magic of the Christmas season was captured Thursday evening by a petite young third-grader and a box of crayons.
Lakin Chambers, a student at Woodsdale Elementary School, created a new birthday-themed light display for Oglebay’s 90th anniversary and the park’s Winter Festival of Lights. Her rendition of a giant birthday cake with fireworks is now on display at Oglebay’s Speidel Golf Course as part of the 33rd annual Winter Festival of Lights.
Chambers had the honor of flipping the switch to officially kick off the festival, which runs nightly through Jan. 1. She was joined by park commission members and other special guests. With nearly 100 displays and 1 million lights, the show extends across the rolling 300 acre-landscape of Wheeling’s gem of a park.
Wheeling Park Commission President and CEO David Lindelow welcomed invited guests to the annual light-up night celebration, complete with fireworks as the switch was flipped.
Lindelow, who recently marked just under a year at the helm of the park system, immediately noted “the great team of people who work so hard” to bring about the annual festival.” Since taking the leadership role at the park, Lindelow said he quickly came to realize why Oglebay is a success.
“Oglebay is really about the people … the people that support the park, the leadership and all the people who work here and contribute to its growth,” he said.
He applauded the efforts of the employees who work year-round to make the Winter Festival of Lights a true event, bringing nearly 1 million visitors to the park annually.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., made a surprise visit to the event. She said her warm memories and family tradition of visiting the festival with her parents and children brought her to the park once again Thursday night. Capito was visiting in Tyler County and said “I just couldn’t miss this.”
She said each Christmas night, all her family members would pile into cars and make the drive through the Winter Festival of Lights.
“For many years, it was just as exciting for my parents and it was for the kids,” Capito said.
She recalled fond childhood memories of skiing the bunny slope at the ski lodge, going to the swimming pool with its wooden benches, staying in cabins for family reunions and enjoying the beauty and traditions of the park.
WesBanco President Todd Clossin said he was pleased to continue WesBanco’s relationship with the park. WesBanco serves as the presenting sponsor of the festival. He said more than a dozen extended family members will descend upon his home today, all headed to Wheeling to visit the Winter Festival of Lights.
“Sixteen family members, ages 3 months to 87 years, are coming from all over to see the festival of lights. This really kicks off the Christmas season for our family,” Clossin said.
With the new addition of 3D “Sleigh Bans,” the 2018 Winter Festival of Lights promises to be even more stunning. This year, Oglebay has enhanced the show with holographic eyewear that transforms every point of light into a magical display.
For a $25 donation, guests will receive a Winter Festival of Lights season pass and a family four-pack of 3D Sleigh Bans eyewear featuring four unique holographic lenses. Plus, guests also will receive more than $25 in money-saving coupons redeemable at various shops and attractions throughout the park.
For information about the Winter Festival of Lights, visit oglebay.com/events/festival-of-lights.