THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Festival of Lights

It is starting to look so much like Christmas, at the least at Oglebay Park, the place the thirty second annual Pageant of Lights is on the brink of begin the vacation season.

At one time, Oglebay was ‘lifeless’ in the course of the holidays.

“I feel it was December the eighth and we have been the one 4 individuals within the eating room for the complete night,” stated Randy Worls, Chairman Emeritus on the Oglebay Basis.

That is when Randy Worls knew he needed to do one thing to show round tourism within the Wheeling space.

With lower than 38-% occupancy on the Lodge, and declining attendance on the Wheeling Jamboree, he acquired along with Ross Felton, the President and CEO of WWVA. 

Collectively, they pooled their assets and acquired a person by the identify of Ed, who specialised in tour buses, to provide them some recommendation. 

“And we requested him one query: the place do you ship your tour buses in December? And he stated Niagara Falls, New York. However to not see the falls, to see the Pageant of Lights,” stated Worls.

That is the place the thought was born.

After a number of calls and plenty of work, the primary Pageant of Lights opened at Oglebay with simply eight shows on December 1, 1985.

Because of 30 days of steady rain, Randy says they have been not sure if they might even activate the lights that yr.

However they did, and about ten days later they began seeing tour buses come by means of.

“And by the top of the present, we had about 50 tour buses that got here by means of. And we hadn’t promoted it due to the rain and we weren’t even positive till the present began. By February we had so many calls that we began a tour bus division,” stated Worls.

And that is when issues actually took off, at occasions backing up visitors all the best way to the interstate! 

Two years in, Randy and Ross received along with some Wheeling Metropolis Officers, and even our personal Brenda Danehart to take a tour bus to Niagara Falls to search for methods to make the present even greater and higher. 

Quick ahead 32 years, dozens extra shows, a changeover to all LED-bulbs, and expanded vacation actions. The Pageant of Lights contributes about $20 million dollars to the financial system in Ohio County every season. 

However in any case these years, what retains all these individuals coming again?

Randy says it is easy:

 “There’s all the time youngsters. And youngsters love lights. You possibly can return traditionally, and lights at Christmas is a practice. It should go on for the subsequent a number of many years. I’m constructive of that.”

The change will probably be flipped Thursday at 6 p.m. to start the thirty second annual Pageant of Lights.

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