RICHLAND, Wash. — It’s the time of year when John Dam Plaza sparkles, lit up with tens of thousands of colorful lights.
City of Richland Recreation Manager Julie Jackson estimates there are more than 40,000 lights for this year’s Winter Wonderland and HAPO Festival of Lights.
“It is phenomenal, it is a signature event for City of Richland, it is one of our most beloved favorite events of the year,” Jackson said.
A few final decorations were going up on the HAPO Community Stage in the days leading up to the event. Members of the City’s Richland Cares Committee were helping out.
“This is one of our favorites every year is all of the holiday things the parks crew does for the community and we just love to help them out,” said Lynne Follett, economic development specialist with the City of Richland.
The festival runs through the month of December and it all begins with a big celebration on Friday, Dec. 2nd.
“The festivities begin at 5 p.m. – down to the countdown until 6 p.m. when we light up the entire park and then start the preset playlist with all of the dancing lights choreographed to all of this music,” Jackson explained.
While at John Dam Plaza, people can stop by the Alphabet Home Village, where the latest replica is on display.
“We’ve got a lot of folks that live in these homes in the area and they come in and actually take family photos their holiday photos next to the model home,” Jackson said.
While visiting the village, children can drop off letters to Santa, who will be making a grand entrance during the opening event.
“New this year, for the big event, we have a parade of city vehicles decked out in lights that will be circling John Dam Plaza about 5:30 or so,” Jackson said. “They’ll do a few laps. They’ll drop off Santa and Mrs. Claus because they’re escorting them to the stage.”
The parade of vehicles will then make its way to Howard Amon Park, where visitors can enjoy even more activities, including J&S Express Train, food vendors and lighted boat parade.
In its seventh year, the festival keeps growing and has become a holiday staple event for locals and visitors alike.
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