By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon’s illuminated yuletide spectacular opens this Saturday night with the Chill Your Cheeks Run, Jingle Walk and Kringle Karnival.
But preparations for the annual “Christmas in the Park” started three months ago at the Yukon City Park complex.
City of Yukon personnel led by the Parks Maintenance Department are entrusted each year to install and erect all the lights and decorations at the interconnecting Yukon City Park, Chisholm Trail Park and Freedom Trail Park.
“The set-up has been going great; of course, we’ve had beautiful weather this year,” Yukon Parks Maintenance Superintendent Jason Worden said Monday afternoon. “We have over 500 displays and about 5 million lights total.
“We started the second week of August, and we’ll still be putting them up opening night. We have about 97% out and ready.”
Christmas in the Park will run from 6-11 p.m. nightly from Nov. 20 through Jan. 2. Drive-through and walking tours are available, and there will be various selfie spots and photo ops across the park landscape.
Thirteen Yukon Parks Maintenance personnel, with support from Yukon Public Works, have rolled up their sleeves to present Yukon’s epic yuletide lights festival.
“It takes a group effort,” Worden said. “We take a lot of pride in this. When we ‘light it up’ and have those cars coming in, it’s just awesome to see the smiles on the kids’ faces.
“I couldn’t do it without our Parks Maintenance crew. They’re always giving me 100% to make sure everything’s put up safely and everything’s ready for opening night. I could not be prouder of them.”
Some new “4-D” displays have been added to this year’s Christmas in the Park line-up.
One featured addition is a Cadillac with Santa Claus riding on the back. Visitors can sit inside and take photos.
Another new attraction is a gingerbread house scene that people also will be able to stand inside for pictures.
Not to be outdone, a squashed reindeer and horse-and-carriage displays will be other Yukon Christmas festival highlights.
Back by popular demand for a second year will be an “real” ice-skating rink in the Chisholm Trail Park parking lot.
The outdoor rink will be open to the public from 4-10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 2-10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. There is an admission charge.
Santa Express train rides also will be offered from 6-10 p.m. nightly, weather permitting, at Chisholm Trail Park. Rides are $4 per person. It’s a great way to view the Christmas lights.
Christmas in the Park has become Oklahoma’s premier holiday lights extravaganza. It attracts visitors from across Oklahoma and other states.
“We at Parks Maintenance are dedicated,” Worden said. “We want this event, every year, to be bigger and better. We really want it to be the most memorable experience for anyone who comes to enjoy this celebration of Christmas.
“We want to make sure everyone has a good time and wants to bring their families back. We want Christmas in the Park to be the talk of the state, if not the talk of the nation. It’s such a blessing for our Yukon community.”