By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
While other communities have cancelled or curtailed their holiday light displays due to an unprecedented ice storm, the City of Yukon is proceeding full speed ahead with plans for the 25th annual “Christmas In the Park”.
Featuring more than 400 unique displays and an estimated 5 million twinkling lights, Christmas In the Park will open Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Yukon City Park complex.
Drive-through and walking tours will be available nightly through New Year’s Eve at the interconnecting Chisholm Trail Park, Yukon City Park and Freedom Trail Park.
Only two small displays were damaged when tree branches fell on them during the ice storm that started Aug. 26. But no large displays were negatively impacted.
“It was a blessing, for sure,” Yukon Park Maintenance Superintendent Jason Worden said. “When we saw it after the storm, it looked bad.”
City of Yukon crews – from the park maintenance, street and water/sewer departments – worked about 20 hours that weekend cleaning up significant tree damage across the yuletide park venue.
“We had quite a few limbs that came down with the ice storm,” Worden said. “Most of all the trees had some type of damage to them; many with hanging limbs we had to cut off. We had about three tons of limbs that we gathered up and removed from underneath the trees.
“We have them cleaned up and everything’s going as planned with the displays.”
Yukon Park Maintenance personnel started erecting displays and hanging lights in mid-August in preparation for Yukon’s epic yuletide spectacular.
Their work was temporarily halted during the recent storm clean-up efforts, but things are now back on track for next Saturday night.
“The guys are definitely putting in a lot of work to get them up and have everything ready for opening night,” Worden said. “Everybody’s working really hard, sun-up to about sun-down, getting the lights plugged in and tested so they’re ready for the 21st.”
Christmas In the Park 2020 will feature several new attractions, notably an outdoor ice-skating rink at the train station near the Oklahoma parking lot at Chisholm Trail Park.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Worden opined. “A lot of pedestrians are excited about it.”
Several large displays also will debut – specifically a giant reindeer, Santa Claus and a hot air balloon.
“We’re very excited and ready for it to be open,” Worden said. “Park maintenance has put a lot of work into it. We do every year.
“With the tree limbs and all that, the guys have stepped it up. They always give 100% and this year they’ve given me 150. I couldn’t be any prouder of them.”
Yukon’s highly acclaimed Christmas In the Park is known throughout the region as a premier holiday light display. The festive extravaganza has helped make Yukon a tourist destination, bringing tens of thousands of visitors to the community during its six-week run.
“I hope everybody comes out and has a great time,” Worden concluded. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Volunteer and city staff collect donations at the park entrances, used to fund new light displays.