Christmas lights to dazzle the West End – Times News Online
The West End Festival of Lights begins tonight at the Gilbert Fairgrounds.
âThis is the first year, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a few years,â said Todd Merkel, creator of the event.
For years, Merkel has created an elaborate display of Christmas lights known as the Stoney Ridge Lights at her home on Mauch Chunk Road in Palmerton.
Hundreds of cars, if not more, drove past his house each holiday season. He wanted a bigger place and he wanted more decorations to display.
So, he brought his love of lights to the West End, and this year, “my show has quadrupled in size,” he said.
It includes over 100,000 lights and nine mega-trees sequenced to music.
While you can see some of this spectacular sight from the road, there are many more guests waiting inside the gates.
He and his girlfriend, Jackie Gruber, have been at the fairgrounds every day since early November, hanging string lights, running extension cords from the power source to decorations, and installing metal-frame reindeer, snowmen of snow, the Grinch, snowflakes, trees and corn stalks that lights up.
âIt’s a hobby that turned into a business. I make commercial Christmas decorations, âhe said.
The West End Festival of Lights begins on Black Friday and will run daily until at least December 23. Merkel said he could extend it until the week after Christmas.
The lights will come on around 5 p.m. and stay on until around 10 p.m.
The illuminated display is animated and includes music.
âOn weekdays there will be a limited number of food vendors and light displays,â Merkel said.
On November 26, 27 and 28 and December 17, 18 and 19 there will be craft vendors, food vendors, horse and buggy rides, tours with Saint Nick and entertainment, a-t -he declares.
Wayne Johnson will perform this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and RJ Cramer will perform Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Entertainment for December 18 and 19 will be announced.
Merkel and Gruber would like to thank their committee, which includes Kerry Smith, Denise Snyder, Mike and Sylvia Goral, Joel George, Lynn Smith, Lewie George and Ron George.
Twenty Christmas trees, which were purchased from Shoenberger Farms, have been adopted and decorated by organizations or individuals.
âThese trees will be lit during the Festival of Lights and are in honor or in memory of someone,â Merkel said.
They are located at the end of the halfway point, near the building that hosts the flower shows during August Fair Week.
One of the trees is sponsored by the Pleasant Valley Middle School and Pleasant Valley Elementary Parents’ Organizations.
âWe thought it would be a great way to show our support for a local and community event. It’s good when we can work together on things, âsaid Heather Blum, PVI PTO member who helped decorate it.
They chose classic blue and white lights to represent Pleasant Valley. They hope to add a little bear to it, she said.
West End Relay for Life, Woody’s Men and Kids Cuts, Boy Scout Troop 102, and Cub Scouts Pack 102 are some of the other groups that have adopted and decorated trees.
Merkel hopes to increase the number of tree sponsorships next year.
Kris Kringle Party
The Carbon County Fair will host its Kris Kringle Fest on December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 at the fairgrounds and the Festival of Lights will be one of them.
âWe hope the community will support us so that we can continue for many years to come,â said coordinator Bob Silliman.
There will be little rides, a train and bounce house for the kids, craft and food vendors, games, entertainment, and of course, hot chocolate.
âHow can you host a Christmas event without the hot chocolate,â Silliman wondered.
Kris Kringle will visit the children in the heated tent from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. each evening.
Kringle, an old-fashioned Santa Claus, “can’t wait to talk to a lot of kids,” Silliman said.
Musical performances on these dates include Dave & Brenda Rehrig, Bill and Melodye Reese, Jeni Hackett, Stacey Gable, Joe Krushinsky and Angela Nardini.
Performers will sing Christmas carols and other tunes from the winter holiday season, he said.
âI hope this event will be a lot of fun for the children. This is Christmas, âhe said.
Daily admission to the exhibition grounds is $ 6 per person aged 3 and over. It is free for children under 3 years old. Doors open at 2 p.m. and close at 9 p.m.
Todd Merkel, creator of the West End Festival of Lights, hammers a stake to secure a metal frame truck with lights on Monday. He and the committee began to prepare for the festival and decorate the exhibition grounds in early November. It is a musical display. STACI GOWER / SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
The West End Festival of Lights features over 100,000 lights and three mega-trees sequenced to music.