Local holiday highlights continue

The holiday season is waxing and waning, in a manner of speaking, in Big Spring.On the down side, you can still get your Christmas fix at the Heritage Museum, but only for one more day. On the positive side, however, another holiday tradition, the Comanche Trail Festival of Lights, is just picking up steam.The museum's Christmas Tree Forest, featuring more than 50 individually decorated trees, will close Friday afternoon, Curator Tammy Schrecengost said.The exhibit attracted hundreds of visitors this season.“It was a wonderful success,” Schrecengost said. “The community support for this exhibit is always great, and this year was no exception.”This year, the exhibit doubled as an American Cancer Society fundraiser.“We had a special tree dedicated to the memory of Maurine Pittman,” Schrecengost said. “She and her husband, Dale, were long-time supporters of the Christmas Tree Forest, so we collected donations for Relay For Life in her honor.”More than $5,000 was collected for Relay, she added.Across town from the museum, the Festival of Lights has attracted more than 4,700 visitors since it opened its 2012 run Saturday. The festival has attracted visitors from six foreign countries, including Denmark, Poland and Kenya, and from U.S. states as far away as Montana and New York.“We're getting visitors pretty close to the rate I was expecting,” said Pat Simmons, festival chairperson. “But we're looking for things to really pick up in the next few days.”The festival runs daily from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through Dec. 31.Dozens of exhibits illuminated by more than a million lights greet visitors to the festival. Aside from the trademark lighted poinsettias, which serve as the unofficial logo of the festival, there will are corporate-sponsored Christmas cards, snowmen, Christmas trees, a representation of the Settles Hotel and much more.A special display this year honors former mayor Russ McEwen, a long-time supporter of the festival, who died in October.Admission is free, although donations are gratefully accepted. Simmons said donations help fund current and future festival operations.To keep interest in the festival high in the week following Christmas, organizers have planned a geese-counting contest. Wooden geese will be placed along the festival route and visitors will have a chance at a special prize if they guess the correct number of the ornaments, Simmons said.The contest begins Dec. 26, she added.