GALLIPOLIS — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, well almost. Volunteers have begun the work of decorating Gallipolis City Park in preparation of the 2021 Gallipolis in Lights event.
The ninth year of the light event will take place between Nov. 24 and Jan. 1, 2022, with a lighting ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m to kick off the event.
One of the event organizers, Shari Rocchi, said the lighting ceremony will include entertainment, free cookies and hot chocolate, fireworks and of course, plenty of lights.
The lighting and fireworks will be closer to 7 p.m., Rocchi said.
Bossard Memorial Library will also be sponsoring live reindeer from Pine Acres Reindeer Farm to be at the park during the lighting from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“While the reindeer cannot be touched or petted, visitors at the event are encouraged to take pictures with their cameras or cell phones,” states the library’s website.
Rocchi said the event will have plenty to offer to both new and returning visitors.
“We always, always change the way we set up the lights,” Rocchi said. “We’ve added several different things, you just have to come and see.”
Each year the park’s sidewalks are lined with sponsored Christmas trees, while trees will still be setup, the location will be different, Rocchi said.
“We have about 50 on the top, across the road, facing the river on First Avenue,” Rocchi said. “And then the rest of them are going down over the hill at the park front. So, we’ll have a walkway and then you can also drive by it, as well.”
One new thing this year will be a hot chocolate concession cart on the weekends.
“He will be setup close to Second Avenue, near the bandstand area… with all kinds of fancy different hot chocolate drinks,” Rocchi said.
Rocchi said the hot chocolate cart will be donating a portion of proceeds back to the Gallipolis in Lights.
One thing Rocchi said she loves is the number of messages the event receives on Facebook about where to eat or where else to visit while in the area.
“I’m always putting the restaurants down and places they can go and things, other lights [they] can see,” Rocchi said.
After eight completed years, Rocchi said she still can’t believe the event has grown so large.
“I still can’t even believe it,” Rocchi said. “We do this to bring joy, you know. I know it sounds sappy, but it’s true. Just to bring joy and to have families together. That’s it. Whenever you’re walking through, it’s really nice to see families come together and just look at the lights and hear their comments.”
Rocchi said the Gallipolis in Lights committee consists of about 20 members and about 10 members put in most of the decorating work.
“We love getting together and being creative and figuring out new things to do,” Rocchi said.
The light event is purely donor funded, Rocchi added. While the organization has two fundraisers each year, due to COVID-19 both have had to been cancelled for the past two years.
Rocchi said anyone wishing to donate to the event is welcome to, there will be mailbox-type donation boxes at almost each corner and a gingerbread house where donations can be dropped, Rocchi said.
“I feel like the community is really going love it,” Rochhi said.
Rocchi encourages everyone to stay safe with distancing and masks can be worn by those who prefer.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.