by Marnie Uhl, President/CEO, Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce
What began 23 years ago as a small community Christmas-light display has grown into one of the state’s most brilliant holiday attractions.
Prescott Valley’s Valley of Lights has delighted residents and visitors alike with lighted and animated displays created with thousands of colored lights.
In 2001, then-Chamber Executive Director Lew Rees envisioned a beautiful lighting display similar to what he previously had in his community of Branson, Missouri.
Working with a lighting company from that area, he planned and designed the first eight original displays.
Retired Executive Assistant Beverly Oleson remembered that in those early days staff and volunteers helped with the set up — dragging electrical cords, moving and anchoring displays and manning the donation booth.
Today, the Valley of Lights has 63 displays, with most consisting of multiple sections, animation and millions of lights. It is under the masterful supervision, setup, maintenance and storage by Advanced Electrical Contracting and Jeff Schaffer.
Schaffer begins work on the Valley of Lights in early September to have it ready by Thanksgiving. During the display, he is continually checking on the cords and electrical, as errant wildlife often make their way through, creating unintentional mischief.
Five years ago, the Stroll through Valley of Lights began. For one night only, the park is closed to vehicles and people walk through the beautiful displays. They may meet carolers, a singing Christmas hippo, Buddy the Elf and Santa Claus.
This is a very popular night where people are able to view and photograph the lighted and animated displays up close and personal.
The Valley of Lights displays represent a variety of interests and celebrations from the Nativity and spiritual, to patriotism and fantasy, to awareness and remembrance. Each is made possible through sponsorships by organizations and businesses.
The Valley of Lights is one of the most visited holiday destinations with an average car count of 625 nightly. There is no admission, but a donation of $5 per car is suggested and gratefully accepted at the end of the display area.
• Valley of Lights is open 6 to 10 p.m., through Dec. 30.
• Location is 2205 5th St. (Look for the toy soldier pointing the way on Highway 69.)