By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Yukon’s spectacular yuletide light festival is attracting the burgeoning masses, and data released this week proves its popularity.
Boasting some 5 million twinkling lights and around 450 unique displays, the 25th Annual “Christmas In the Park” opened Nov. 21 and runs through New Year’s Eve.
The sprawling 100-acre venue is spread across the interconnecting Yukon City Park, Chisholm Trail Park and Freedom Trail Park.
“It’s been amazing considering the year that we’ve had,” Yukon Parks Maintenance Superintendent Jason Worden said. “Our traffic counts are up from last year.
“So far, we’ve had over 50,000 vehicles come through our park and over 13,000 train riders. We’ve had nine (marriage) proposals so far and we’ve got four more at least for the remainder of the year, which is really awesome.”
Attendance peaked between Dec. 6-12 as shown by traffic counts for that week:
• Yukon City Park: 9,390
• Chisholm Trail Park: 9,326
• Freedom Trail Park: 8,958
The vehicle counts provided by the City of Yukon demonstrate that Christmas In the Park has become Oklahoma’s premiere holiday lights extravaganza, attracting copious quantities of motorists and pedestrians alike.
The lines tend to grow longer on weekends with many out-of-town visitors joining Yukon residents clamoring to the park entrances.
“It’s really amazing and we’re really blessed as a city to put on an event like this,” Worden said. “We’re looking forward to finishing the year strong.”
An analysis of the data shows the busiest three days for Christmas In the Park this season have been Wednesday, Dec. 9; Thursday, Dec. 10; and Saturday, Dec. 12.
• High traffic count thus far is 1,755 on Dec. 10 at Yukon City Park.
• Second highest total is 1,683 on Dec. 11 at Chisholm Trail Park.
• Third highest is 1,601 on Dec. 9, also at Chisholm Trail Park.
Crowds are enjoying the illuminated park tour both on foot and in their vehicles.
Worden surmised why Christmas In the Park attendance is up over 2019.
“I think people want a little bit of normalcy in their lives during the Christmas season with everything that’s going on,” he said. “People can come out, social distance and embrace the season.”
A featured attraction is the Santa Express Train that leaves the station next to the new outdoor skating rink at Chisholm Trail Park.
There have been more than 1,000 train riders on three nights thus far in 2020, the data shows.
The most were 1,261 riders on Saturday, Dec. 5. There were 1,115 riders on Thursday, Dec. 10 and 1,020 riders on Wednesday, Dec. 9.
Both large and small trains run regularly, except during bad weather.
With two weeks left to view Yukon’s magnificent lights, there’s still time for Christmas In the Park to shatter more records.
It should be noted the light displays will close Thursday, Dec. 31, but the skating rink will stay open through Sunday, Jan. 3.
“The skating rink has really made an impact this year; it’s been busy,” Worden said. “It’s a great addition.”