GALLIPOLIS — The switch hasn’t even been flipped and visitors were flocking to Gallipolis City Park over the weekend to not only participate in the annual “tree walk” for Gallipolis in Lights (GIL), but to take in what appears to be a record year for entries, nearing a reported 300.
Despite the less than ideal weather on Saturday for the annual tree walk, decorating went on, with trees filling the park, and even being posted along First Avenue, facing the Ohio River.
Of course the trees are just one part of the GIL display which covers the entire park; a park that will be illuminated during the seventh annual Gallipolis in Lights lighting ceremony from 5:30-7:30 p.m., this Wednesday, Nov. 27 – the actual lighting is scheduled to begin around 7:10 p.m. at the Bandstand, according to the GIL Facebook event page. The night will include live reindeer, fireworks once again sponsored by Holzer Health System, reworked displays and a surprise, said GIL Events Organizer Shari Rocchi.
Rocchi also told Ohio Valley Publishing those at the lighting ceremony are in for a “huge surprise” sponsored by Ohio Valley Bank.
Also, as announced earlier by Bossard Memorial Library Director Debbie Saunders, live reindeer will be on display on opening night courtesy of the library.
“Our local Gallipolis in Lights event certainly stirs the holiday spirit in each of us,” Saunders stated a few weeks ago via her column for the Sunday Times-Sentinel. “I am very proud to live in a community that boasts such a magnificent holiday light display in the beautiful Gallipolis City Park. On behalf of Bossard Memorial Library, I am excited to share that the Library will be providing visitors an opportunity to see live reindeer in the Gallipolis City Park from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27 during the official tree lighting and opening ceremonies of Gallipolis in Lights 2019. These reindeer will be ‘flying in’ from Pine Acres Reindeer Farm in LaRue, Ohio. While no petting of reindeer will be permitted, visitors will be able to get within two feet of the reindeer to take pictures, if desired. Plan now to join the community in celebrating this year’s Gallipolis in Lights, an event which, just like Rudolph in the classic holiday tune, is sure to ‘go down in history.’”
Also, as announced by Gallia County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (GCCVB) Executive Director Amanda Crouse, Ohio Magazine representatives will be at the lighting ceremony to present officials from both the city of Gallipolis and GCCVB with its Best Hometown Award. The presentation is set for 7 p.m. at the stage in the park. The stage will also be home to several live acts and entertainment.
The annual tractor and wagon rides will once again be presented by Evans Wealth Management at the lighting ceremony as well. Visitors will also be able to take advantage of free cookies and hot chocolate the night of the lighting.
GIL runs through New Year’s Day and has often been regarded as the unofficial start to Gallia’s holiday season along with the GCCVB’s annual Christmas Parade held Dec. 7. Admission is free.
Dean Wright and Beth Sergent contributed to this article.