Festival of Lights opens Saturday

Light the lights.Comanche Trail Park will be transformed to a Christmas wonderland starting Saturday when the Festival of Lights begins its annual holiday run.Hundreds of exhibits featuring more than a million lights will be on display. Themes range from traditional holiday scenes to patriotic displays, with a little West Texas flavor thrown in for good measure, organizers promise.Aside from the trademark lighted poinsettias, which serve as the unofficial logo of the festival, there will be corporate-sponsored Christmas cards, snowmen, Christmas trees, a representation of the Settles Hotel and much more.A special display this year will honor former mayor Russ McEwen, a long-time supporter of the festival, who died in October.Admission to the festival is free, although donations are gratefully accepted. Festival Chairperson Pat Simmons said the donations help fund current and future festival operations.“Donations are what help the wheels of the organization move,” Simmons said. “That allows us to pay for the electricity and buy more lights for next year.”There will be a special event planned for the week immediately following Christmas, although Simmons is being purposely mum about details for the time being.More than 20,000 visitors are expected during the event, which has attracted people from across the United States and other countries.“It's amazing to me the number of visitors we have from different states,” Simmons said. “Last year, we had people from 38 states and 14 countries visit us.”For more information, contact the Convention and Visitor's Bureau at 264-2516.