Chehaw lights up with holiday displays

Meeks says approximately 5,000 cars came through the Festival of Lights last year

Chehaw's Festival of Lights is a project that's taken a year and a half to weld by hand in the park's own welding shop. It takes a month to set up each of the 1,000 pieces featured in the display that attracts visitors from as far away as Atlanta.

"We started in the middle of October putting this all out. It's kind of organized chaos," says Maintenance Manager Don Meeks, one of the employees responsible for piecing together the Festival of Lights.

The event began as a small displayed featured on a train ride at Chehaw.

"Then it evolved into a larger display, and then about five years ago we rented a bunch of displays from a company out in the Midwest. Very fun displays, but they were not very efficient power wise and they were a large maintenance hassle so we decided two years ago to not rent those lights anymore and to build our own displays," says Meeks.

One of the highlights of the Festival of Lights includes bells that light up with music.

"That's a computerized program that runs that. Every time a certain set of notes hits in the song it turns on a certain set of bells," says Meeks. "I would love it if people would stop here and watch this display but people don't seem to get that you can pull over and listen to this music and watch the bells."

The second highlight is a new addition featuring each part of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

"We're mostly trying to keep with the comedy theme, where people have fun with it rather than try to make it very technical," says Meeks.

Meeks says the park plans to feature a poster each year with one of the Twelve Days of Christmas gifts, starting this year with a partridge in a pear tree.

Chehaw's Festival of Lights runs until Dec. 8. Visitors can see the display between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Cost is $12 per non-member car and $8 per member car.

Meeks says approximately 5,000 cars came through the Festival of Lights last year.