By Conrad Dudderar
With three weekends already topping 5,000 visitors, Yukon’s uber-fantastic holiday lights extravaganza has attracted widespread interest thanks largely to some new featured displays.
Through Sunday night, more than 35,000 vehicles and nearly 12,000 train riders have enjoyed Yukon’s Christmas in the Park since it opened on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
That’s based on traffic counts provided Monday by the City of Yukon.
Between Saturday, Nov. 23 and Sunday, Dec. 15, there had been 22,624 vehicles through Chisholm Trail Park, 12,835 vehicles through Yukon City Park and 11,916 riders on the “Santa Express” train at Chisholm Trail Park.
“It’s been pretty steady,” Yukon Parks Maintenance Supervisor Jason Worden said. “It’s great to realize how many people actually come to Yukon to see the parks.”
Christmas in the Park is open from 6-11 p.m. nightly at the interconnecting Chisholm Trail Park, Yukon City Park and Freedom Trail Park. Vehicles line up at park entrances along N.W. 10th, Holly and Vandament on what has become a growing number of high-traffic nights.
Open through New Year’s Eve, the illuminated spectacular features 4.5-plus million lights and more than 500 unique displays across 100 rolling acres. Drive-thru and walking tours are available.
“It’s always a blessing each year,” Worden said. “It’s always bigger and better.”
Several new attractions have earned rave reviews.
“A lot of people really like the new RGB Tree and they say the seven trees on the peninsula are just gorgeous,” Worden said. “They’re really a big hit. The new ornament in the middle of Chisholm Trail Park also a real hit.”
There already have been about a dozen marriage proposals made at the Christmas in the Park venue, with these new features often serving as a backdrop.
“It’s been a real blessing,” Worden said.
BUSY WEEKENDS, BUSIEST NIGHTS
The last three weekends have seen interest peak at Christmas in the Park and there’s still two more weekends to go before it closes Dec. 31.
Traffic counts totaled 5,949 for the weekend after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29-Dec. 1), reached a high of 6,141 for the weekend of Dec. 6-8 and was 5,485 for the weekend of Dec. 13-15.
Four nights have topped 2,000 vehicles, according to the City of Yukon’s traffic count data: Saturday, Nov. 30 (2,200), Friday, Dec. 6 (2,019), Saturday, Dec. 7 (2,319), and Saturday, Dec. 14 (2,297).
For three nights so far this season, train riders have surpassed 1,000: Saturday, Dec. 7 (1,165), Friday, Dec. 13 (1,148) and Saturday, Dec. 14 (1,073).
Two more high-traffic weekends are expected bookending Christmas: Dec. 20-22 and Dec. 27-29.
“I think that this next weekend is going to be pretty big; it’s supposed to be nice weather-wise,” Worden said.
Yukon city crews and volunteers have received many positive comments from visitors traveling through Christmas in the Park.
One typical compliment comes from Christmas light “junkies” who say Yukon’s venue is “by far, the best display they’d ever seen” besting others in Chickasha and Midwest City, according to Worden.
Grateful that vandalism has been minimal across the city park complex, Worden cited the efforts of city employees to prepare and present the annual Christmas tour. Crew begin erecting displays in August and didn’t finish until opening night.
“It’s a lot of work that’s put into this,” he said. “We’ve been blessed that everything’s gone smooth this year. And we’ve been very blessed with all the new displays we’ve received.”
Christmas in the Park maintenance is continual.
“We have a person in charge each night,” Worden said. “We go out and make sure that any displays that have gotten unplugged or had a light strand go out are fixed ‘on the spot’. We don’t want someone coming through and seeing a half-lit display.
“As Park Maintenance, we enjoy doing all the work and really appreciate the opportunity to do this for the City of Yukon.”
Yukon’s holiday park lights will dim after close on New Year’s Eve. City crews will then spend weeks taking everything down and placing it in storage.