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A decade of light

County, Rainbow House to celebrate 10th annual holiday festival

Santa Claus waits for reindeer to pull his sleigh as part of the holiday decorations set up at Clayton County International Park for its upcoming 10th Annual Festival of Trees and Light. The festival opens Nov. 30.

Santa Claus waits for reindeer to pull his sleigh as part of the holiday decorations set up at Clayton County International Park for its upcoming 10th Annual Festival of Trees and Light. The festival opens Nov. 30.

— Deck the park with boughs of holly.

But, if no holly is available, then Santa in an inner tube and a snowman on a bicycle will suffice.

Fresh off hosting filming for the “Hunger Games” sequel, Clayton County International Park is about to be lit up for the holidays.

“Our Festival of Trees and Lights is due to open next Friday,” said Clayton County Parks and Recreation Director Detrick Stanford.

This year will mark the 10th annual Festival of Trees and Lights that the county’s recreation department has put on in partnership with family abuse shelter Rainbow House. The festival, a Rainbow House fundraiser which takes places at Clayton County International Park, 2300 Ga. Hwy. 138, Jonesboro, will begin with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Nov. 30. It will continue each weekend until Dec. 16.

The costs are $7 per car, $10 per van and $20 per bus.

Recreation department employees are currently setting up holiday light displays throughout International Park to get ready for the festival, which is largely an opportunity for families to see a lot of Christmas lights in one central location. The display is available for viewing from 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.

The figures depicted in the lighted scenes can range from leaping reindeer, to elves, to Santa Claus, to snowmen.

“People can drive through and see all of the displays, and Rainbow House will have some groups performing at the Nassau Building [next to ‘The Beach’] at different times,” said Stanford. He added about two-thirds of the scenes have been changed for this year’s festival.

The annual festival was first launched in 2003, in large part because of the county’s relationship with Rainbow through then-County Commissioner Virginia Burton Gray, who has been heavily involved with the organization for years, according to Stanford.

However, while it continues to be an important fundraiser for Rainbow House, it has also proven itself to be an opportunity to draw families to the park outside its usually busy summer season.

“As we all know, the park is a seasonal facility and people primarily go there in the summer because that is when ‘The Beach’ is open,” said Stanford. “This allows them to come back during the winter and see the park in a holiday setting.”