On Nov. 17, just moments after the winners of Yukon’s annual Chill Your Cheeks 5k cross the finish line and walkers make their way around the 1-mile trail that makes up the city’s Jingle Walk, more than 4 million LED Christmas lights will be set aglow, marking the beginning of 45 days of Christmas in the Park.
The annual event will kick off at 6:30 p.m. at Yukon’s three intersecting parks — Chisholm Trails Park, Freedom Trail Park and City Park.
The main entrance to the free festivities is at City Park, just off Holly Avenue.
Drivers will interweave through more than two miles of lights between the parks.
City crews have been working on the installation of about 400 lighted displays since August, said Jenna Roberson, a spokesperson for the city of Yukon.
“It grows a little each year,” Roberson said.
This year, a “selfie” area has been added that allows those walking the park trails to snap a picture using their cellphones and upload the photos to various social media sites.
And the “Will You Marry Me?” area will be available again for those wanting to “pop” the question.
The annual event runs from 6 to 11 p.m. nightly through New Year’s Eve, Roberson said.
“The cost is free, but we do happily accept donations,” she said.
The donations are used to help offset the cost of not only Christmas in Park, but other free activities as well, such as the summertime Concerts in the Park and Festival of the Child.
Roberson said more 3-D displays have been added as have “Nutcracker” displays.
One of this year’s highlights will be Santa, who will be in his new chair near the train station at the Oklahoma Parking Lot for more nights.
“He will be there a lot,” Roberson said. “This is one of the few places to take a photo with Santa yourself for free.”
City crews are responsible for setting up the lights, but children from Southwest Covenant helped tie ribbons around the guy-wires during their Patriot Project last week. The bright pink ribbons help warn people about the nearly invisible wires that hold the displays in place.
The city’s children’s train also will be running, giving tours of the lights on a nightly basis.
It is the 23rd year for the lighting display.
Roberson said the project was started 23 years ago by City Manager Jim Crosby to help get the residents into the holiday spirit.
Last year, more than 52,000 vehicles went through the display.
“We’ve had people from all 48 contiguous states. They come from all over,” Roberson said. “Some are just traveling through and they happen to come by. Some make it a tradition to stop here.”
She said the effort put in by city employees is amazing.
“We have city employees who have been doing this for years. It has become so special to them. They want to make it amazing,” Roberson said.
KRIS KRINGLE KARNIVAL
The annual Kris Kringle Karnival will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 17 in Chisholm Trail Park near the Oklahoma Parking Lot.
Roberson said the change has been made because Prancer and Vixen, two of Santa’s reindeers, are scheduled at this year’s celebration.
Also, an 1800-era sleigh is being brought in as a location for photos.
Roberson said the festivities will include a live band, bell-ringers, Irv Wagner and his trombone quartet and lots of arts and craft activities.
Chester the Clown also is expected to return for the annual event/
Roberson said all activities are free.
“There’s a little bit of everything for the family,” she said.