During its third season, the Capital City Festival of Lights raised $50,000 to be divided between the festival and three local charities.
The festival at Binder Park allowed visitors to drive through a 2-mile stretch of Christmas light displays from Dec. 6-31.
Homemaker Health Care presents the festival as a fundraiser. Proceeds go to HHC’s Community Outreach Fund and charities who send volunteers to the festival each year. This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jefferson City and the Special Learning Center will receive donations.
Jeff Buker, a volunteer with HHC Community Outreach who has been involved with the light festival since its first year in 2017, said the festival has gotten bigger and better every year, and they hope to keep that going.
Each year, about half of the money raised goes back into the park to help build it up and add more displays.
“We have some exciting things planned for next year,” Buker said. “We do want to grow some of the displays that we started with, and that’s been kind of our plan from the beginning — to start off with interesting displays and have the ability to build on those, as well as adding.”
Some of this year’s new additions will definitely return next year, he said.
“The light tunnel was one of our crowd favorites this year, along with the large train. Everybody seems to love trains,” Buker said.
Buker hopes to add more displays that arch over the road so visitors can drive through them.
“People seem to really like those, and they’re a lot of fun,” he said.
Other festive favorites include larger-than-life penguins, a nativity scene and sections of the lights synced to Christmas music on the car’s radio.
The $50,000 was raised mostly from the $20-per-car entrance fee, along with an optional extra donation at the end of the drive, Buker said.
“We appreciate everybody coming out,” he said. “A lot of folks are starting to make this a family tradition; they’ve been out for the three years.”
For many, Buker said, the chance to see the lights is reason enough to come, but the fundraiser adds a bonus.
“Knowing it all goes to the charities helping out really makes it that much more enjoyable for the holiday season,” he said.