Carly Carver, Editor
The Ashland Beacon
The Winter Wonderland of Lights Festival is a project of the Ashland Alliance Chamber of Commerce that will run through Jan. 3 at Central Park, a 52-acre park in the heart of Ashland.
Due to COVID-19, there are several changes to the Winter Wonderland of Lights Festival this year.
The Winter Wonderland of Lights Festival was unable to have its traditional opening night ceremony due to the spike of cases in Boyd County, and the county’s classification as a “red county.”
In addition, the train rides, visits with Santa at Central Park, the annual Beauty Pageant, Breakfast with Santa, and karaoke have also been canceled.
Marion Russell, the Chair of the WWOL Committee said the traditional Christmas parade has been canceled due to COVID-19 spikes within the county. “We didn’t want to take a chance and cause any harm,” said Russell.
The decision was made due to the current state of COVID-19 cases, as well as a lower than usual number of participants. “We want to thank everyone for their interest in our drive-thru parade,” said the WWOL committee in a social media post. “We want to thank everyone for their patience and cooperation while we were making this difficult decision. Here is to hoping we can have our typical parade next year.”
Russell said that the people that work on this project were extremely dedicated. “We are just eliminating this year what could harm people’s health,” said Russell.
The lights in Central Park will continue. The five-week celebration has over 60 holiday displays containing more than 800,000 lights.
“We have a new castle that will be in the middle of the park,” said Russell. “We have had some items refurbished and we have done some electrical improvements, and a new small display of penguins throwing snowballs.”
Russell said a lot of money went into updating current displays. The Winter Wonderland of Lights Festival began in 1989 and is funded completely through donations from area businesses, individuals, and organizations. It is a 501 (c) 3 organization which allows all donations to be used as a charitable donation for tax purposes.
WWOL is implemented by volunteers in the community and has been a “destination” for visitors during the holiday season for many years and is listed as one of the Top 10 Kentucky Festivals or Events for Winter/Holiday season, according to the organization’s website. Winter Wonderland also organizes the largest Christmas Parade in Kentucky.
You can find more information on the parade participant application at www.winterwonderlandoflights.org