Slice of life

Onondaga Lake lights up 27 years of holiday traditions

As the cold weather settles just in time for the holidays, community members gather together to celebrate holiday traditions. In Onondaga County, one of these traditions is celebrating 27 years: Lights on the Lake.

Lights on the Lake is a two-mile, drive-through light display that wraps around Onondaga Lake Park, running through Jan. 8. Visitors have the chance to see eight different themed sections that have new and updated displays from past years. Some sections include “Larger-than-Life Land of Oz,” “Twinkling Fantasy Forest” and “Delightful Victorian Village.”

“I went as a child, my parents would take me through, and now I take my own kids through,” said Carrie Wojtaszek, a marketing partner with Galaxy Events, an organizer of the event.

All the attendees are “happy and spreading holiday cheer. We like to get people in the holiday spirit,” Wojtaszek said.

A year of planning goes into the event, organized collaboratively by the Onondaga County Parks Department and Galaxy Events. Wojtaszek has been involved with the event for seven years, and enjoys seeing the families go through the displays.

She calls the event a “tradition” that generations of families have attended. Last year, there were around 40,000 vehicles that drove through the event.

“Couples will go, families will go, sometimes people go through and they bring their pets,” Wojtaszek said. “It’s one of the largest light displays in the Northeast and we’re just really proud to have it in our town.”

The event gets its funding from a variety of local and national companies, including Sunny 102.1, a central New York radio station that visitors can tune into to get a holiday-themed soundtrack to their drive.

Lights on the Lake hosted a number of philanthropy events earlier in the winter season, donating the funds raised to HumaneCNY, an animal shelter, and Hillside Family of Agencies, which provides health, education and human services to families.

“The stroll is great in getting the community to come out,” Brittney Christie said, a representative for Galaxy Events. “It’s a huge benefit for us because we’re able to give that money back.”

Though the event is geared towards families, there is something for students as well. Junior public relations major Julia Brougher, who attended a similar light display exhibit at a zoo back home, said the event could be a fun holiday outing.

“(Light display events) are fun to go with friends,” Brougher said.

The event goes from 5-10 p.m. each night. Admission is Monday-Thursday at $10 per car and Friday-Sunday at $15 per car.

“It’s a wonderful event and we encourage everyone in the community to come out and take a part, enjoy the holiday lights, the music and the holiday spirit,” Wojtaszek said.

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