of Lights 2017
Chillicothe's Simpson Park is full of lighted holiday displays as part of the
community's annual Festival of Lights. The park this year has 65 displays and dozens of decorated trees. The lights of the park are turned on at 4 p.m. daily and
remain on until midnight. Visitors are welcome to drive through the park as well as park their vehicles and walk
among the displays. The festival continued until shortly after
January 1. Volunteers began removing the decorations in the days
following... see here.
box is located on the east side of the center circle of
Simpson Park (just down the hill as you come in from Washington
Street) across from the children's playground. You can just roll your driver side window down and put the donation in the mailbox.
There is a spotlight on this box.
MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT
Festival of Lights Spreads Holiday Cheer
A steady stream of cars funnel through Simpson Park just about any given evening, meandering along the route of
captivating and awe-inspiring lights and holiday displays. This is the 13th year for the Festival of Lights in
Chillicothe's Simpson Park. The volunteer-driven and donation based attraction has grown tremendously through
the years and now includes 65 lighted displays and dozens of lighted trees.
Students at Grand River Technical School constructed this holly archway
that is placed at the Walnut Street entrance into Simpson Park. C-T photo / Dalton Ripley
People travel from throughout the area to view the Festival of Lights. Some leave notes of appreciation to those
who make the festival possible, and donations. Whether coming from near or far, visitors enjoy the holiday display.
"Seeing the bright, beautiful lights against the dark night fills us with delight and
joy," said Barb Burton, who has coordinated the Festival of Lights since 2009.
"It lifts our spirits." As the event has expanded, so has the need for
power supply and community support, said Burton, who first volunteered with the Festival in 2008.
"The community and various businesses in Chillicothe have donated time, manpower, supplies and various resources to make it
happen," Burton stated. Power has been added (at no charge to the city of Chillicothe) to the center circle, Armory
Hill and the area south of Chilli Bay Water Park so that more areas of the park can be decorated, she said.
The number of volunteers continues to grow each year, and financial support has increased to help meet
maintenance needs and allow the festival to expand. Donations come from individuals, businesses, memorial
contributions, and foundations. Some of the lighted displays are original to the Festival of Lights. The early displays
were made from rope lights, including those in the children's area and the rope light nativity. However, all of the
rope lights in the early displays have been replaced by the festival's dedicated crew members who repair lights each
year. Many volunteers give hours, days and weeks of their time preparing for the opening of the Festival of Lights.
"Taking into consideration the number of volunteers and the number of hours it takes to put the lights and displays
up every year, we average between 3,500 and 4,000 man hours," Burton said. The lighted tunnel
- a popular spot for taking photographs of family and friends - is one of the most difficult displays to set up, Burton said. Lighting
the rocket slide also involves extra time. There is also a special group, also, to thank who work on repairing lights in
the "off season."
While the public may have perennial display favorites, new displays are added each year to create opportunities for
new favorites to develop. One of the first popular displays was a large spruce tree that was decorated as a
traditional Christmas tree. That tree, however, was dying and was cut down this past fall. A new Norway spruce was
planted near the site of the previous tree and now is decorated in similar fashion. It is intended to remain a
developing showpiece of the Festival of Lights for years to come. The
"Twinkle Tree" is mentioned frequently as a favorite, along with the lighted
tunnel, nativity, rocket, penguins and dragon.
C-T Photos / Dalton Ripley
Burton stated that the Festival of Lights Committee has several new displays in mind for next year, if enough
funding comes in. "It all depends on donations," she said. To help generate donations, students at Grand River
Technical School made a donation box, shaped like a Christmas tree.
That donation box is located near the lighted tunnel. The students have also contributed to the decorations, having built the holly archway at the Walnut Street
entrance and the American flag frame located near the park's main entrance.
Each season has its challenges and a common one is dealing with the
park's squirrels. Squirrels, Burton said, destroy approximately 100 light strands each year.
The Festival of Lights Committee expresses gratitude to Chillicothe Parks and Recreation, City of Chillicothe,
Chillicothe Municipal Utilities, and to Chillicothe Correctional Center for the groups of offenders who help with the
annual event, to Johnston Rental for the use of the lift, and Sydenstricker Farm & Lawn for the use of a Gator. The
committee also noted the efforts of the teams of employees from Hedrick Medical Center, Harden, Cummins, Moss &
Miller, Grand River Health Care, MidWest Glove & Gear and Citizens Bank & Trust, along with students from
Chillicothe Middle School, GRTS Career Independence Program and Chillicothe Alternative Center for Education for
decorating designated areas. "As always, we welcome everyone's help with this
project," Burton said. "We are all volunteers."
She stated that volunteers will be taking down the lights on the warmer days in January. Burton said the committee
needs help rolling up light strands and cords, packing tubs with lights, labeling and organizing. Help also is needed to
repair lights during the off-season months. "It's an indoor job and instruction is
available," she said. "Any amount of time that can be given is
appreciated." Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The lights of the park are operated by a timer and come on at 4 p.m. and remain on until midnight. The festival will
continue until shortly after January 1, although the specific date depends upon the weather, Burton said.
9, 2018 -
Chillicothe’s Festival of Lights in Simpson Park has come to a close and volunteers have spent the last few days taking
down lights and holiday decorations.
Among those removing lights on Monday were Debbie Goodwin and Don Wilhoit. This
particular "green" tree was among several that the two had decorated by meticulously
wrapping light strings around each branch. They used a lift to hoist them high enough to
reach the top of the tree to remove lights. The large red bows decorating the lamp posts
throughout the park were removed Saturday, prior to Sunday's rain. Chillicothe Municipal
Utilities removed the large decorated framework at the Washington Street entrance
Monday morning. Barb Burton, Festival of Lights coordinator, expected the removal of all
of the decorations to be completed next week, weather permitting. Temperatures stayed
below freezing from Dec. 22 until this past weekend. Monday's high reached the mid-30s.
The temperature is forecast to reach 48 today and 55 on Wednesday before colder
conditions return Friday with the temperature remaining below 32 degrees until next Wednesday.
C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley
Festival of Lights'
Opens for 2017 Season
Chillicothe's Simpson Park
was transformed into a holiday wonderland beginning Saturday, November
18, 2017, when the lighted displays were turned on at the park. The Festival of Lights
opened with a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. The evening included complimentary hog cider, coffee and hot chocolate, as well as horse-drawn carriage rides for $1 per person.
Santa and his elves joined in the fun. There are several new displays this year, including the new
Norway spruce that was planted a few weeks ago. This boy pulling his sled with his little dog along for the ride is the newest addition to
Festival of Lights. The display was purchased with memorial funds for Carson Clay Clevenger, Clara Mae Grimm, Ralph
Wheelbarger, and Robert Frederick Grouse. New displays are added as funds allow.
C-T Photos / Catherine Stortz Ripley / 11 17
This event has become a holiday tradition in Chillicothe for 13 years. Chillicothe Mayor Chuck Haney welcomed the
crowd that had gathered to be a part of opening night. Pastor Buck
Cueni-Smith led in prayer. Barb Burton, Festival of Lights coordinator, introduced the Festival of Lights Committee members: Janet Barnhart, Marsha
Beetsma, Mary Lou Wilhoit and Kathy Gilliland. Burton thanked the city of Chillicothe, the parks staff, Chillicothe Municipal Utilities crews and
the many volunteers and sponsors. Barnhart expressed her appreciation for the volunteers and reported that volunteer
hours topped 3,500, which is the equivalent of five weeks' work done in five weeks. Gilliland thanked businesses for
sending teams of employees to help decorate.
Mayor Chuck Haney (left) and Vivian Miller, this year’s Christmas Spirit Student, welcome Santa
and his elves to the Festival of Lights ceremony Saturday evening. After brief remarks, the featured guests
led a large crowd in counting down from 10 for the illumination of the park’s lights. After the lights were
turned on, those attending could walk among the displays, visit with Santa and take horse-drawn sleigh rides.
The dazzling drive-through display of lights will remain on throughout the holidays.
Vivian Miller, this
year's Christmas Spirit Student, helped Haney welcome Santa and, along with the elves, led the crowd in the traditional countdown for the lights to be turned on. Vivian is the
daughter of Mary Miller and Brian Miller. She is a third-grade student at Field School. Coffee, hot chocolate, and warm
apple cider were served courtesy of Sliced Bread Market. BTC Bank and Chillicothe State Bank sponsored horse-drawn
sleigh rides around the park. Tom Tingerthal provided the Christmas music.
C-T Photos / Catherine Stortz Ripley
/ 11 21 17
The horses stayed busy throughout the evening, pulling a sleigh full of people throughout the park.
Decorating of Simpson Park for Festival of Lights
began Monday, October 9, at 9 a.m. Everyone is invited to participate. Anyone interested in helping decorate is asked to send their email addresses to
email@example.com in order to be notified about upcoming work times and dates.
The opening night for the Festival of Lights will be Saturday, November 18, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The Chillicothe Street
Department assists volunteers of the Festival of Lights,
put lights on trees and decorations throughout Simpson Park. C-T Photo / Jaime Saucedo 11/03/17
Tree for Simpson Park
A 20-foot Norway spruce from Tree Patch in Hamilton has been planted in preparation for the 2017 Festival of Lights. Rod
Diven, of Tree Patch, recommended the Norway spruce, for the growing conditions in this part of Missouri and for the
purpose of the Festival of Lights. The decision was made to choose
the Norway spruce over the white pine (see related
story below) due to the strength of the branches and growing conditions in the park.
The tree that has been decorated the past several years has died and
was brought down before the new tree was planted. A
stake had been placed near the old tree marking the spot where the Norway spruce
was to be planted.
The cost of the new tree was $2,500. The Park Board will be contributing $750 from the Tree Fund. The Festival of Lights hopes to raise the remainder from
donations. "We appreciate the donations we have received and will receive in the coming
weeks," Burton said. Maintenance of the Norway spruce includes watering in dry periods and trimming once each year to keep its shape.
These tasks have been discussed with Josh Norris, director of the Chillicothe Parks and Recreation Department,
and the Chillicothe Park Board.
C-T Photo / Jaime Saucedo 101617 C-T
Story C-T 08 31 17
you've been in Simpson Park this summer, you may have noticed that the branches on the giant spruce tree on the
east side of the park are not so lovely. This once majestic tree is dying.
When the Festival of Lights Committee took over the project in the park eight years ago, one of the first things the
committee did was order several hundred multi-colored lights for the spruce tree. It quickly became a focal point
and a favorite attraction. Now, this beautiful old spruce tree is destined for the wood chipper in the next few
weeks. A Christmas park needs a Christmas tree, according to committee spokespersons Barb Burton and Janet Barnhart.
With the approval and partial financial help from the park board, the Festival of Lights committee would like to
purchase a new white pine to replace the spruce tree. "My father-in-law once told me that the best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, inferring that it takes a very long
time for a tree to reach maturity and substantial size," stated Barnhart.
The committee would like to purchase a large tree from the Tree Patch in Hamilton, and large trees are expensive.
"We are organizing a tree fund campaign to help offset the
cost," she added. The new white pine will range in size from 14 to 20 feet, depending on how much money can be
raised. "The tree will be a beautiful addition to our already beautiful, tree-filled
park," Barnhart said. "The Tree Patch assures us that the tree can be planted and decorated this
The Festival of Lights is recognized as a 501(c)(3) under the Livingston County Educational and Housing Council, and
all donations are fully tax deductible. If you would like to donate to the new tree fund, you may send donations to
the following address: Festival of Lights, P.O. Box 1032, Chillicothe, MO
64601. Please indicate TREE FUND in the memo line of your check. Updates on the progress of the fundraising will be provided to the media and posted on the
Festival of Lights Facebook page. "As in previous years, the committee continues to be so grateful for the amazing generosity of
this community in its support of the Festival of Lights," Barnhart said.
of Lights 2016
Photos Catherine Stortz Ripley and Jaime Saucedo
- Chillicothe's uniquely spectacular holiday spirit was on display this weekend, kicking off the
year's events. The Festival of Lights is weeks in the making, needing extended time to set up Simpson
Park's entire display. But it is well worth it for the families of Chillicothe as they show up in crowds, children brimming with anticipation, all the
way through the 'count down.' (C-T
Photo at left Catherine Stortz Ripley)
According to committee member, Janet Barnhart,
"this year we had a good crowd, there were no gusting winds that make for bitter
cold." Warm apple cider and coffee were served for free while
children asked Santa for their Christmas wishes. Santa made sure to hear them all as he stayed for the entire event.
Dozens of people waited in the 33 degree temperature for their turn on the sleigh
ride that went on until every last person was able to get a ride. An estimated 500 people were on hand for the lighting and the Festival of Lights will remain on display
through to the first of the new year.
This year's Festival of Lights in Simpson park features two new lighted displays and an expansion of an existing display.
The Festival of Lights Committee purchased the airplane display with funds from the James Beemer memorial. The Santa
display was purchased by the Festival of Lights committee with funds from the Scott Stephens memorial. The
newly-enlarged Nativity and the four additional figurines were made possible with funds from the Keith Ware memorial.
Saturday's Festival of Lights was launched by Mayor Chuck Haney, this
year's Christmas Spirit Student Tara Webb, Santa Claus and a couple of his helpers.
C-T PHOTOS / JAIME SAUCEDOThe displays have been set in place, and the lights will come on for the
season during the Opening Night Celebration at 5:30 p.m. Saturday,
November 19, 2016. The tradition of the Festival of Lights began in 2005 and continues
today because of the support and generosity of Chillicothe. Several businesses donate everything from electrical supplies
and zip ties to teams of employees who come out and decorate designated
areas. Donations from local foundations, businesses, memorials and individuals enable the committee to maintain and
enhance the park each year.
Along with new bows, the festival will have two new displays this
year. A new, animated Santa display has been placed on top of the bathroom
building near the playground. Visitors to the park will also discover Santa flying an airplane with
a Merry Christmas banner attached. Most of the favorite displays will be back this year. A crew of
volunteers has spent many hours this summer repairing and replacing burned
out lights so that every display will appear shiny and new on opening night. A few displays must be retired each year and will be replaced as
funds are available. Power issues at specific locations in the park are
attended to so that outages will be at a minimum. Donations are always welcome and
are put to good use. A donation box has been set up at the park and donations may be placed in the box or
mailed to Festival of Lights, PO Box 1032, Chillicothe, MO 64601. Festival of Lights committee members are Barb Burton, Janet
Barnhart, Marsha Beetsma, Kathy Gilliland, and Mary Lou Wilhoit.
Parks and recreation department workers help give volunteers a
'lift' as they string lights
on a tree near the main entrance of Simpson Park in preparation of the Festival of Lights.
Opening night will be Saturday,
November 19, 2016. The lighting display is fully funded through donations.
C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley
of Lights 2015
Annual Ceremony Lights up Simpson Park
By BRITTANY TUTT
November 23, 2015
CAPTION: Mayor Chuck Haney and special guests, Gavin and Mea Campbell, were joined by Santa and his elves for the countdown at the Festival of Lights ceremony Saturday night.
C-T Photo / Brittany Tutt
The Festival of Lights lighting ceremony in Simpson Park took place Saturday evening. Festival of Lights has been a growing Chillicothe tradition since 2005. This was the first year the Festival of Lights and Jenkins Townhouse ceremonies were combined. Mayor Chuck Haney welcomed everyone to the event and talked a little bit about that.
"It was a very emotional time for Jason Bone (of the Chillicothe Rotary Club) and I. The Chillicothe Rotary Club and the city went to visit with Carol (Jenkins) about moving the lighting
ceremony... to Simpson Park to combine them into one ceremony. That's what
we've done tonight. And what happens after tonight for next year,
we'll play it day by day," Mayor Haney said. Haney talked about how volunteers have been hard at work since early October and how successful Festival of Lights has become.
"A lot of new things have been added each and every year to make this the talk of not only Chillicothe but the entire area of northwest
Missouri... It's unbelievable how many people drive to Chillicothe to drive or
walk through our park to see the Festival of Lights and all the decorations. It takes a lot of people to do
it." Mayor Haney then introduced Festival of Lights coordinator Barb Burton.
"We're delighted to see all of you tonight. This is all of our's celebration and
don't we have a wonderful, beautiful Simpson Park," Burton asked the large crowd who attended the ceremony. Burton then thanked all who help make Festival of Lights possible year after year.
"I want to first thank the city of Chillicothe who actually allows us to come out and do this work out here and make our park beautiful. They are all for it and 100 percent behind it and so we really appreciate their
support." "We have a small committee but we have a lot of volunteers that help us do this every
year," Burton continued. "We are so, so appreciative of them to help us every year and to get out there. And this is not an exclusive group. Every one of you is invited to help us and join us. We meet new people every year that come out and help and we need your help so
much." Burton then pointed out the Festival of Lights donation box set up in the park, which helps tremendously as well.
"When you drop some money in there that just helps us fix lights or buy more lights or buy new displays like we have every
year," Burton said. Festival of Lights committee members were introduced: Janet Barnhart, Marsha Beetsma, Mary Lou Wilhoit and Cathy Gilliland. Burton also thanked the Chillicothe Parks Department.
"One of the reasons our park looks so beautiful year-round is because of our park
staff," Burton said. She also thanked CMU and the Chillicothe Correctional Center for allowing offenders to help provide labor.
"Those ladies are amazing help. They help us every year," Burton said. Burton also
thanked business sponsors. A list of them can be found on a banner hung up on the tennis court fence in Simpson Park.
Burton then pointed out the new displays which were a new United States flag donated by the Grand River Technical School located on the north side of the park, and twinkling snow flakes located on the west side of the park.
"Enjoy this tonight. We are so thankful and happy and blessed to have this park and to have the Central School Stingers with us tonight.
It's just a great community occasion," Burton said. "We love the lights, we love our park and we just want to
see it continue and that's why we do what we do," Burton concluded.
Jason Bone recognized the honorary students on behalf of the Rotary Club, which were brother and sister, Gavin and Mea Campbell.
"These two really exemplify Christmas at its best," Bone said of the students. He then read information about the students sent to him from their teachers. Santa and his elves joined the Campbells and Mayor Haney on the stage to countdown the lighting from ten. When the countdown reached one, not only did the park light up but all the childrens' face lit up as well. Many of the people stayed and walked around to all the displays, enjoyed horse carriage rides through the park, and visited Santa.
Festival of Lights Opens Saturday
November 17, 2015
The park has been full of activity as decorations go up for Festival of Lights in Simpson Park. Wreaths appear on
light posts, then garland on bridges, followed by lights on trees, and this week the displays have been set in their places. The lights will come on for the season during the opening night celebration at 5 p.m. this Saturday,
November 21. The tradition of the Festival of Lights began in 2005 and continues today because of the volunteer efforts of many in our community, according to Festival of Lights Coordinator Barb Burton.
"From electrical supplies to zip ties, local businesses provide items and often labor to support this
project," she said. Welding students at the Grand River Technical School donated their labor to build a U.S. Flag. Other volunteers wired the flag with lights. Money is raised each year to purchase the things that cannot be donated, including lights and cords and decorations.
"We have noticed that the trees have grown substantially since last year which means more lights are needed to decorate them
adequately," Burton said. The committee also includes Janet Barnhart, Marsha Beetsma, Kathy Gilliland and Mary Lou Wilhoit. In addition to the new flag, a group of shimmery snowflakes have been added to bring beauty to the park. Most of the favorite displays will be back this year. A crew of volunteers have spent many hours this summer repairing and replacing burned out lights so that every display will appear shiny and new on opening night. A few displays must be retired each year and will be replaced as funds are available, Burton said. Power issues at specific locations in the park are attended to so that outages will be at a minimum. Many people make this project work year after year including our Chillicothe Parks and Recreation staff, directed by Josh Norris and Chillicothe Municipal Utilities staff, directed by Matt Hopper. Offender crews work steadily throughout the season. Several areas of the park are decorated by teams of employees from local businesses and GRTS. A tub with lights and a printout of the decorating plan for that area is prepared for each team. They schedule a time to work. Festival of Lights also provides a support person. The decorating is accomplished in about an hour. The rest is decorated by committee members and others, some are the same for several years, and every year there are new faces.
"All are welcome and fit right in," Burton said. "We hope we are almost finished decorating for 2015, but look forward to working with everyone in January to take it
down." Burton notes that while the lights and decorations are beautiful, the bills
aren't all paid. The Festival of Lights Committee invites those who enjoy the lights to consider making a donation in the DONATION BOX at the park, or mail it to Festival of Lights, PO Box 1032, Chillicothe, MO
Festival of Lights Ceremony November 21
November 10, 2015
The longtime Jenkins Lighting Ceremony at the Jenkins Christmas Village will not take place in 2015, but some elements of the ceremony have been transferred to the Festival of Lights opening night celebration event in Simpson Park. The festival ceremony is scheduled for
5 p.m. on Saturday, November 21. After reviewing the condition of lights and decorations that have become unusable or worn over the years, a decision was reached with the Rotary Club of Chillicothe and Carol Jenkins, the surviving daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Jess Jenkins. The Chillicothe Rotary Club had been involved in the Jenkins Lighting ceremony and program the past three years. Over many years and in preparation of the annual ceremony, the women of the Jenkins home have been faithful in hanging lights, setting up holiday displays, and rehabbing the worn items to the best they could with limited funding and available resources, according to Chuck Haney, a long-time announcer of the Jenkins Townhouse Christmas Village lighting. Honoring the Jenkins family and their impact on the women at the home through many decades has been an important part of Chillicothe, Haney said. Carol Jenkins will attend the Festival of Lights ceremony in Simpson Park, and she and her friends will be getting a personal escort to Simpson Park where Carol will be introduced and recognized. The Festival of Lights Committee has agreed not only to include Carol in the program but also the Central School Stingers directed by Dan Venner. The Stingers, a choral group of more than 100 students, have been singing at the Jenkins ceremony for the past several years and will continue to do so at the Festival Lights program. The starting time for the festival of lights is at an earlier time this year to accommodate the additional elements in the program.
New American Flag
Planned for Festival of Lights
May 12, 2015
It's time to retire the Festival of
Light's 12-year-old U.S. flag display. A new, improved, and larger flag has been on the
committee's wish list for a long time. "The time is right," says committee chairman Barb
Burton. The committee members have found a display they like, and Lee
Caughron, welding instructor at GRTS, has agreed to have his students build it.
"We believe that a new flag display is an important addition to the Festival of
Lights," she said. The new display will be 12 feet by 8 feet in size and will be illuminated with more than 1,000 LED bulbs. Although the committee is saving a
substantial amount of money by having the students build the frame, donations are still needed to purchase the
materials used by the welding class along with the custom wiring and the LED bulbs that will be added by others.
"The individuals, businesses, organizations and foundations of Chillicothe have always been very generous with their
continued financial support for the Festival of Lights, and we hope to make the new flag display a reality for
2015," Burton said. "In order to take advantage of the reduced, off-season pricing on the items needed,
it's important that we raise the money for the flag long before we actually begin our work in the park. We would like to thank the community for their support, which makes the Festival of Lights
possible." Donations may be mailed to Festival of Lights, PO Box 1032, Chillicothe, MO 64601.
Festival of Lights
April 15, 2015
Spring has sprung, and the Festival of Lights Committee is already planning for the winter holidays.
It's time to place orders for new lights and decorations for Festival of Lights 2015;
and residents of Chillicothe are receiving an extra envelope inside their April Chillicothe Municipal Utilities (CMU) bill to mail a donation for Festival of Lights. Decorating
doesn't begin until October, but orders for lights must be placed early to get products at the best prices, said festival
organizer Barb Burton. Most companies require 50 percent down when the order is placed. Some items, including the
snowfall tubes that were so popular last year, must be ordered within the next few weeks. Each year, the Festival of
Lights Committee prepares a budget for new decorations and for the replacement and repair of existing decorations
before the funds are raised. "Payments for decorations have always been made in full and on time thanks to the
generosity of the residents of Chillicothe and the surrounding
area," Burton said. Donors may use the envelope provided in the April CMU bill to send cash or check for the 2015 Festival of Lights. City or county residents who do not receive
the CMU bill are also encouraged to donate. Checks should be made payable to Festival of Lights and mailed to P.O. Box
1032, Chillicothe, MO 64601. Festival of Lights Committee members are Barb Burton, Janet Barnhart, Marsha
Beetsma, Mary Lou Wilhoit, and Kathy Gilliland, treasurer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
of Lights 2014
Simpson Park Aglow with
By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY
November 26, 2014
With the flip of a switch,
Chillicothe's Simpson Park became aglow during the annual Festival of Lights ceremony Saturday evening. A large crowd had gathered at the center of the park and enjoyed hot chocolate and cider and listening to a few acknowledgements until the jingle of
Santa's horse-drawn sleigh arrived. Upon his arrival, Santa, who was escorted by two elves, addressed the crowd and soon made his way through a colorfully-lighted bridge tunnel and to a nearby shelter house decorated in such a way to provide a Christmas atmosphere. There, he greeted a long line of youngsters eager to share their Christmas wishes. Meanwhile, a long line of people gathered to wait their turn to take a sleigh ride through the lighted park. Prior to
Santa's arrival, Chillicothe Mayor Chuck Haney addressed the crowd and Councilman-at-Large David Moore welcomed the
guests stating that the City Council appreciates all the work that
goes into the event. "Nobody has any idea, unless you come to the park everyday and watch what goes on, what it takes to make everything happen
here," Haney said. "Barb Burton, we appreciate you and your crew very
much." Burton then offered a few comments and, in turn, introduced members of the Festival of Lights Committee: Janet Barnhart, Marsha Beetsma, Mary Lou Wilhoit, Kathy Gilliland. She also noted the cooperation of the city, parks crews, utilities personnel, volunteers, businesses and others who provided their time to decorate the park. Students from the high school and GRTS also help each year, and this year, the art class repainted the nativity figures. The Festival of Lights began in 2005 and has grown since. All of the lights and displays are purchased with funds that have been donated by individuals, businesses and local foundations. Burton stated how important the donations and volunteers are to the success of the Festival of Lights.
"It is through your donations that make it possible," she said. Donations may be dropped in a donation box at the park or mailed to Festival of Lights, P.O. Box 1032, in Chillicothe. All funds received will be used for lights and displays.
The hot cider and hot chocolate was provided by Hy-Vee. The sleigh rides were sponsored by BTC Bank and Chillicothe State Bank. There are new displays this year, including a new animated penguin and igloo display and some different lighting effects.
Photo by Claire Ripley
Hundreds of people attended the opening of Chillicothe's Festival of Lights Saturday evening.
The event included horse-drawn sleigh rides throughout the 35-acre Simpson
Photos from the
opening night celebration, November 22, 2014... enjoy the lights
through January 4, 2015. A donation box is available in the park.
the 2014 Event...
Work began at
Simpson Park the first week of October, 2014, in preparation
for the Festival's opening night. The opening night
celebration will be Saturday, November 22, 2014, at 5:30 p.m.
- the evening of the annual holiday parade.
The park will be
closed for a few hours that night so people can walk around
and enjoy all the lights and decorations. There will be free
hot chocolate and apple cider served. Horse-drawn sleigh rides
will be available for $1.
There will be a short program and
then a countdown so the lights all come on at one time. The
community can look forward to the decorated rocket slide,
ice skaters display, twinkle tree, spruce tree (pictured),
nativity scene, holly arch and decorated front and back park
entrances. A few new items include an animated penguin display
and some new lighting effects.
Volunteers help decorate a favorite among the park's
decorations - the spruce tree. CT Photo Beth Cox
of Lights 2013
Sounds of Christmas Fill Simpson Park
Price CT - Nov. 26, 2013
Horse-drawn sleigh rides were given to more than 100 people
throughout Simpson Park Saturday evening. The sleigh rides
were provided by Chillicothe State Bank and BTC Bank.
C-T Photos /
150 children visited with Santa.
bridges throughout Simpson Park
are covered with festive lights and decorations.
hundred people crowded Simpson Park despite frigid
temperatures for the 2013 Festival of Lights Celebration and
Lighting Ceremony Saturday evening. Chillicothe Mayor Chuck
Haney welcomed the crowd, followed by City Administrator Ike
Holland. They both thanked the volunteers and parties involved
in the event for their hard work.
recognized the Festival of Lights Committee, including Janet
Barnhart, Marsha Beetsma, Mary Lou Wilhoit, Kathy Gilliland
and Jim Hinrichs. Burton also thanked the Parks Department for
their hard work in preparing for the event, and noted that
without the generosity of the community, this event would not
with Haney, counted down to the lighting. Following the
lighting, horse-drawn sleigh rides were given through the
park, as well as tractor-drawn wagon rides. Children formed a
long line to visit Santa, and Christmas music was provided by
Tom Tingerthal. Several space heaters were donated and loaned
for the event to help patrons warm up, and apple cider and hot
chocolate were provided by Piggly-Wiggly for the event as
of Lights began in 2005 by Audrey and Steve Svec. According to
Barb Burton, the idea came to them after seeing a lighting
display in another town. "They thought the lights and
decorations would be beautiful in Simpson Park," Burton
said. The couple began collecting donations from the community
to purchase lights and decorations, and worked with a group of
volunteers to decorate the park in the initial years of the
project. After the Svecs moved from Chillicothe in 2009, the
current Festival of Lights Committee formed and they have been
in charge since. Through the years, the event has grown to
include more lights and decorations throughout the park.
Burton said that the key to decorating is the availability and
efficient use of electricity. "The Festival of Lights
Committee consults with the Chillicothe Parks Department and
Chillicothe Municipal Utilities to utilize power
effectively," Burton explained. The lights are connected
to timers that are set to turn on just before dark each
evening. This year, the committee is working to use more
decorations and light strands using LED light bulbs, due to
the cost effectiveness of them. Roughly, a quarter of the
current decorations were changed to LED bulbs this year, and
the process will continue through upcoming years.
The number of
volunteers has also grown, Burton said. Volunteers include
both individuals and businesses who decorate the park, donate
money, donate decorations and maintain or repair decorations
in the inventory. "This event completely relies on
donations of people and memorial donations to make it
happen," Burton said. "We could not do it without
Night Celebration Event - 5:30 p.m. Saturday, November 23,
The lights will be on every night at dark through Wednesday,
January 1, 2014.
Please send donations to Festival of Lights, P.O. Box 1032,
Chillicothe, MO 64601.
To volunteer, call Barb Burton 660-973-1273 or email
C-T Photo /
Austin Buckner 11/15/13
A crew of workers from Chillicothe Municipal Utilities worked
to erect the new archway
at the Washington Street entrance to Simpson Park. The
decorations are part of this year's Festival of Lights.
Coordinator Barb Burton said the new archway is made possible
with donations from businesses and individuals within the
Chillicothe community, as well as a memorial contribution from
the family of Joan Stephens.
of Lights Archway to Undergo Facelift
The Festival of Lights archway, located near the south
entrance to Simpson Park, will undergo a facelift and remain
in the park
July 2, 2013
This design, created by 2013 CHS graduate Caela Ashford, was
chosen by a group of representatives from the Chillicothe City
Council, Parks and Recreation Board and the Festival of Lights
Committee. The installation of the new design elements is
scheduled for 2014 at an estimated cost of $2,000.
of Lights archway, located near the south entrance to Simpson
Park, will undergo a facelift and remain in the park
year-round, due to a 5-0 decision by the Chillicothe City
Council on June 24. The new design was created by Caela
Ashford, a 2013 graduate of Chillicothe High School. Ashford
submitted her design along with many others to the Festival of
Lights Committee and was selected by a group formed by Mayor
Chuck Haney. The group included representatives of the
Chillicothe City Council, Park Board and Festival of Lights
Committee. "We are happy to have the support of the Park
Board and the City Council to allow the arch to remain in
Simpson Park throughout the year," said Barb Burton, a
member of the Festival of Lights Committee. "We commend
Caela for her design and believe that it will enhance the
south entrance to the park."
Burton, the new design will be constructed on panels of Sheet
metal and will be powder coated and E coated for durability
and low maintenance. The construction will be done by students
at Grand River Technical School under the direction of Lee
Caughron, welding instructor, who directed the construction of
the original arch. The design incorporates the elements of the
new City of Chillicothe logo which will be cut into panels
that will be visible on both sides of the arch. The new panels
will remain on the arch year round and the lighted holly and
berry panels will be placed directly over them during the
construction of the new design has been estimated to cost
$2,000, which will be included in the annual fundraising
efforts of the Festival of Lights. Plans are for the new
design to be completed and installed in 2014.
Festival of Lights, a drive-through display of holiday lights
and decorations, will open for the season on November 23 in
10/07/14: This past April,
2014, Caela drew her design on the metal being used for the arch, and welding students at Grand River Technical School cut the design out. The arch was completed early this month.
C-T photo / Brittany
of Lights: Simpson Park Aglow with Holiday Cheer
Festival of Lights opened Saturday evening in Simpson Park
with a large crowd in attendance. Chillicothe Mayor Chuck
Haney served as the master of ceremonies. Santa was greeted
with cheers from the audience upon his arrival. Emma Burk
helped Santa with the countdown to the lighting. Santa then
spent the rest of the evening visiting with children and
hearing their Christmas wishes, while a horse-drawn sleigh
kept busy carrying individuals throughout the park to view the
people were on hand for the 2012 Festival of Lights
Celebration and Lighting Ceremony Saturday evening (Nov. 17)
at Chillicothe's Simpson Park. Mayor Chuck Haney welcomed the
crowd, followed by City Administrator Ike Holland, who thanked
everyone for their support, including the Chillicothe Parks
Department, under the direction of Josh Norris.
introduced the Festival of Lights Committee, including Janet
Barnhart, Marsha Beetsma, Kathy Gilliland, Mary Lou Wilhoit,
and Jim Hinrichs, and expressed her thanks for the support of
the community and the help of volunteers.
helped Santa with the countdown to the lighting.
lighting, long lines formed to visit Santa and to take a
horse-drawn sleigh ride around the park. Hot chocolate and
apple cider were provided, courtesy of Piggly Wiggly.
Christmas music was provided by MC Entertainment.
whole thing is, this is affordable for families," said
Burton. "Donations are appreciated and may be left in the
donation box in the park. It does take a lot to do this every
will be on each night through January 1st.
Festival of Lights
for the 2012 Festival of Lights commenced last week. Shown
here, the beginning of light hanging from the trees within
Chillicothe's Simpson Park took place on Wednesday afternoon.
The Festival of Lights will begin with a lighting ceremony on
Saturday, Nov. 17, at 5:30 p.m., in the park.
10 25 12 C-T
Begin Preparations for Festival of Lights
10 19 12
It's going to
look a lot like Christmas soon in Simpson Park as the first
decorations go up in preparation for the 2012 Festival of
Lights. Volunteers were gathering this week to unpack wreaths,
garland, and the thousands of lights that will make their way
onto trees and bushes throughout the park. "We welcome
anyone who would like to join us", says Barb Burton,
coordinator, "this is not an exclusive group. We have fun
working together in our beautiful park and enjoy being part of
this great community event."
Chillicothe Parks Department employees, under the direction of
Josh Norris, and Chillicothe Municipal Utilities, under the
direction of Matt Hopper, work together with Festival of
Lights volunteers to decorate the park each year. "The
Festival of Lights Committee has been planning since January
for the upcoming Christmas season and is excited to announce
additions to the park for 2012," said Burton.
this year, will the lighting of one of Simpson Park's favorite
attractions, the Rocket Slide, the addition of an animated
snowball fight between three playful snowmen, some exuberant
carolers, and deer grazing under shooting stars on Armory
Hill. Grand River Tech students under the direction of Lee
Caughron, welding instructor, have built animated snowmen and
trumpeting angels. Jim Hinrichs and crew are making repairs
and replacing lights in existing displays in preparation for
the Opening Night Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 17, at
5:30 p.m. This special event will include horse-drawn sleigh
rides and free hot chocolate and cider. Santa is scheduled to
make a special appearance.
Funds for new
displays and supplies needed to refurbish existing displays
and lights come from the donations of individuals, businesses
and local foundations. Donations are appreciated and can be
mailed to Festival of Lights, P.O. Box 1032, Chillicothe, MO
64601. The Festival of Lights is designated as a 501(c)(3) so
donations are tax deductible.
of Lights Committee includes Janet Barnhart, Marsha Beetsma,
Mary Lou Wilhoit, Kathy Gilliland, Jim Hinrichs and Barb
Burton. Anyone wishing to volunteer with the Festival of
Lights should contact Barb at 660-646-2813 or any committee
member for a schedule of work days and times or just stop by
Memorial contributions for Fred Stephens and Charles Benedict
were used to purchase this group of carolers and a whimsical
dog on display at Simpson Park during Festival of Lights.
Memorials also listed on a memorial sign on the tennis court
fence and are visible for motorists as they drive through the
of Lights Opens Saturday
Thursday, November 19, 2009
This lighted tunnel, built by Jim Hinrichs and Vern Wascher,
provides the perfect entrance to the new children's area at
Simpson Park for the Festival of Lights. The park will come
alive with lights during the opening ceremony at 5:30 p.m.,
this Saturday, Nov. 21. The public is invited to watch the
lights come on and enjoy hot chocolate, hot cider and
horse-drawn sleigh rides. Santa and his helpers are also
scheduled to arrive during the evening.
are being made to the lights and decorations for the opening
of the Festival of Lights in Simpson Park this weekend. The
lights will come on for the first time this season at 5:30
p.m., this Saturday and remain on during the evening hours
through the start of the new year. The opening ceremony will
include horse-drawn sleigh rides, hot cocoa, and a visit with
lower center circle at the park will be closed from 4:30 until
7 p.m. on Saturday and no through traffic will be allowed
between Washington and Walnut streets during these times.
Those wanting to go to Saturday's festival can park along
either Washington or Walnut streets or anywhere in the park
west of Walnut Street.
several new features for 2009, including a lighted tunnel
which leads to the children's area where visitors can see
Santa in Santa's workshop. The park is also adorned with a
three-dimensional lighted nativity, new black lamp posts that
are festively decorated and many other lighted displays.
particular addition this year is a power station at the center
circle of the park, courtesy of North Missouri Construction
Inc., Fellhoelter Electric, Inc., and SMC Electric Supply.
Having power accessible in the center circle will benefit not
only the Festival of Lights, but many events held at the park
each year. This power station supplies power to the 50-foot
spruce tree which is fully decorated in lights this year.
large spruce tree, spectacularly outfitted for the Christmas
season, is one of the highlights of the Festival of Lights for
2009. This tree is about 50' tall. More lights have been added
for 2009, thanks to the generosity of Chillicothe and
Livingston County citizens, businesses, foundations, and
organizations. Power was added to the center circle at the
park courtesy of North Missouri Construction, Inc.,
Fellhoelter Electric, Inc., and SMC Electric Supply. Having
power accessible in the center circle will benefit all of the
events held in the park each year.
of Lights Taking Shape
Thursday, November 5, 2009
The first lights go up at the entrance of Simpson Park for the
2009 Festival of Lights as Darrin Newman and Scott Neill, of
Illuminations by Newman, are seen wrapping trees. Darrin
Newman and Scott Neill are donating their time to benefit the
Festival of Lights that will officially open with a lighting
ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 21, at Simpson
decorations are going up for the 2009 Festival of Lights in
Simpson Park. The Chillicothe Parks Department staff has begun
the process of hanging garland and placing lights on the
hard-to-reach structures and trees. CMU is installing the
entrance arches and setting up the displays.
people are giving their time to help place lights on the many
bushes, small trees and bridges in the park. Several local
businesses are sending groups of their employees to be a part
of this annual holiday tradition. Businesses who have donated
funds, services or supplies will be recognized on a large sign
to be placed across the tennis court fence in the park. The
many individual contributors will be recognized in our local
shaping up for Festival of Lights; opening ceremony Nov. 21
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009
In just a few
weeks, the lights will go on to open the 2009 Festival of
Lights in Simpson Park. The Festival of Lights will celebrate
five years of "making spirits bright" for residents
and visitors to the Chillicothe community.
lighting ceremony will be at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21,
which is a change from past years. Everyone is invited to come
out and enjoy the lights and decorations, Christmas music, hot
chocolate, and horse-drawn carriage rides.
community has been responsive to fundraising efforts, giving
more than $12,000 to fund the 2009 Festival of Lights,"
according to festival coordinator Barb Burton. Plans for this
year include replacing lights with commercial grade lighting
and heavier gauge extension cords, phasing in larger low
wattage bulbs for some trees and decorating the new black lamp
posts along the walking trails.
have been added to maintain the integrity of project which has
grown to be an important part of the holiday season in
Chillicothe, Burton said. The new features include a lighted
tunnel over one of the walking bridges, a children's area,
Santa's workshop, large decorated spruce tree, and a giant new
display that is due to be delivered in a few days.
the pleasures of working on this project is discovering the
joy that it brings to so many in our community. Many of the
donations include notes of appreciation that are very
encouraging to our committee," Burton said. The Festival
of Lights Committee includes Janet Barnhart, Kathy Gilliland,
Marsha Beetsma and Mary Lou Wilhoit. The committee has been
planning since early spring.
of Lights Preparation
June 25, 2009, C-T
Chillicothe's annual Festival of Lights in Simpson Park is
months away, but a lot of the behind-the-scenes work is taking
place now. Glenn Derickson is going through the process of
checking hundreds of strands of lights to make sure that all
are in working order. When possible, he makes repairs to the
strands if needed. Derickson, 73, is paid through Experience
Works, a national, charitable employment program. He will work
for the Chillicothe Parks Department throughout the year.
Photo/Catherine Stortz Ripley
If you stop
by the maintenance building at Simpson Park, you will find
that most of the staff members are not there. They are hard at
work at our community's parks, ball fields and swimming pool.
However, there is a guy sitting at a table, surrounded by
strands of Christmas lights. He is checking each strand to see
if it can be used in a few months during the Festival of
Lights display at Simpson Park. If it doesn't light, he can
usually fix it.
Derickson has already begun to prepare for the Festival of
Lights, a dazzling display of lights and decorations that
kicks off each November. Derickson, a Chillicothe resident, is
contracted and paid through Experience Works, a national,
charitable, employment program. He will work for the
Chillicothe Parks Department throughout the year. "We're
fortunate to have a person like Glenn who has the knowledge,
skills, and experience to help us with this project,"
said festival coordinator Barb Burton. "Once we know how
many working lights we have, we'll know how many we need to
order. Having this preparation done early will save us time in
Burton, plans for this year's Festival of Lights are taking
shape. A planning group has formed and includes (along with
Burton) Marsha Beetsma, Janet Barnhart, Mary Lou Wilhoit, and
Kathy Gilliland. The group has met with other resource people
from the community including park staff to develop ideas and
set priorities for this year's display. Several new features
have been discussed. A children's area, decorations for the
new black light poles, large LED bulbs to decorate one of the
large spruce trees, a large nativity incorporation one of the
shelter houses, a lighted tunnel and a few other surprises are
on the wish list for 2009.
of Lights is funded entirely through the generosity of the
citizens of the Chillicothe community and the surrounding
area. Monetary donations are fully tax deductible and receipts
will be sent in January. To donate, make checks payable to
Festival of Lights and send them to P.O. Box 1032,
Chillicothe, MO 64601.
on Festival of Lights
Wednesday, November 12, 2008, C-T
Chillicothe Parks and Recreation employees string up some lights
on one of Simpson Park's large trees near the playground area
Wednesday morning. The work is being done in preparation for the
annual Festival of Lights and organizers say several new
displays have been added, including an animated toy soldier, a
waving Santa and a Santa's workshop.
The Festival of
Lights in Simpson Park, a holiday tradition since 2005, will
kick off with a celebration lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on
Friday, Nov. 28. According to Audrey Svec, coordinator, several
new displays have been added, including an animated toy soldier,
a waving Santa and a Santa's workshop. More snowmen and angels
have also been placed. The addition of extra electricity has
allowed some surprises to be placed along the walking trail.
been soliciting donations, ordering lights and displays, placing
the displays, making plaques for new donors, and coordinating
the festival of lights celebration plans. They have also been
busy draping garland on all the bridges, lamp posts, the tennis
court, and swimming pool, plus stringing lights on various
bushes and small trees.
Chillicothe Municipal Utilities has committed to taking on the
responsibility of setting up many of the displays as well as
erecting the arches. "We are thrilled that the City Council
with the concurrence of the Park Board has made the Parks
Department responsible for putting up the lights on all the
large trees in Simpson Park," Svec said. "We
appreciate the commitment of support by the city entities for
the Festival of Lights."
Svec said that
volunteers can devote their time and talent to the tasks that
present themselves every year to coordinate the details that
take place behind the scenes to allow the festival of lights to
become a reality.
was filled with hundreds of people Friday as they admired the
lights and lighting displays filling the park for this year's
Festival of Lights. A lighting ceremony was held Friday evening
and lights and displays for the Festival of Lights fill up all
26-acres of Simpson Park.
The lights are
turned on around 5 p.m. daily and turn off around midnight. The
Festival of Lights will continue until Jan. 2, 2008.