Crowds clamor to Yukon light tour

‘Christmas in the Park’ traffic counts surpass 72K

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Several photo stations highlight the annual Christmas in the Park, the City of Yukon’s epic illuminated wonderland at the interconnecting Chisholm Trail Park, Freedom Trail Park and Yukon City Park. An estimated 5 million lights are switched on nightly. (Photo provided)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Huge crowds have been converging on Yukon to witness the city’s over-the-top Christmas lights extravaganza.

And official traffic counts just released by the City of Yukon have proved just how popular Christmas in the Park has become.

Through Sunday, Dec. 19, vehicle traffic counts have totaled 72,790 since the festive light tour opened on Nov. 20:

  • Yukon City Park: 26,325
  • Chisholm Trail Park: 24,980
  • Freedom Trail Park: 21,485

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, there had been 20,587 “Santa Express” train riders through Dec. 19.

Christmas in the Park is open from 6-11 p.m. nightly through Jan. 2, 2022, at the interconnecting Yukon City Park, Freedom Trail Park and Chisholm Trail Park.

Long lines of vehicles filled with holiday revelers can be seen – especially on weekends – along Vandament, Holly and N.W. 10th Street leading to the three park entrances.

Christmas in the Park, a tour of 5 million twinkling lights and some 500 unique displays, has made Yukon a true tourist destination. It is Oklahoma’s largest drive-thru Christmas light tour.

The busiest nights have been on the weekends, the traffic counts indicate.

Seven nights, so far, have seen combined vehicle counts surpassing 3,000:

  • Saturday, Dec. 4 (3,348)
  • Saturday, Nov. 27 (3,269)
  • Friday, Nov. 26 (3,107)
  • Friday, Dec. 17 (3,032)
  • Thursday, Nov. 25 (3,030)
  • Sunday, Dec. 19 (3,009)
  • Saturday, Dec. 11 (3,007)

Visitors from near and far enjoy leisurely self-guided tours – either in their vehicles or on foot – to view “Yukon’s Christmas lights”.

New Yukon Parks & Recreation Director Chris Lucas already was familiar with Christmas in the Park – as a previous “outsider” who visited the illuminated yuletide venue with his family.

“The one here is grand,” Lucas said. “It’s the biggest and ‘bad-dest’ in Oklahoma.”

Lucas’ wife is from Kingfisher, so she’s partial to that city’s park Christmas light tour.

But most onlookers agree that Yukon’s light festival has become the best and brightest across Oklahoma – even surpassing Chickasha’s Festival of Lights.

New displays join old favorites at Yukon’s Christmas in the Park holiday lights spectacular, which continues to grow in both size and popularity. Visitors from near and far enjoy self-guided walking and drive-thru tours. (Photo provided)
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KEEP IMPROVING

Referring to the long lines of vehicles filled with adults and children clamoring to check out Christmas in the Park, Lucas is confident Yukon’s epic lights festival will keep improving.

“I like to see how we can add and evolve,” he said. “What we don’t want to do is have the same event, every single year. It makes it stagnant, in a sense.

“We’ll look at what we can do to make that impact even greater, that gives it that ‘wow factor’ that we need every single year, so people are excited to come back. We’ll see what we can tweak to make those experiences continue.”

“Selfie” spots and “photo ops” spread across Christmas in the Park provide “walking advertisement” for the holiday spectacular, Lucas noted.

Since Christmas in the Park began in the mid-1990s, new displays are added each year.

New 2021 attractions are “4-D” displays feature a Cadillac with Santa Claus riding on the back, a gingerbread house scene, squashed reindeer, and horse-and-carriage.

Returning favorites include a color-changing 30-foot tree, Santa’s Workshop gingerbread house, “Czechers” the polar bear, juggling dragon, and a Christmas tree “island” at Mulvey’s Pond.

Another highlight of Yukon’s Christmas in the Park is the real outdoor ice-skating rink – back for a second year at Chisholm Trail Park.

Learn more at Yukonok.gov/ChristmasInThePark