WOODLAND – In the dark hill country of south Chickasaw County, over a million lights shine each evening in Woodland every night during the holiday season.
Now in its fourth year of the festive display, the town has decorated again this year for the delight of children and visitors to the town. The lights officially went on Nov. 25 and will stay up until Jan. 30.
The lights come on each evening from about 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., and – as always – the event is free to the public.
“It got started with several years ago when Dr. Clint and Lori Washington donated a whole bunch of lights to us,” said Woodland Mayor Patti Watkins. “We put them up and the community just jumped right and everybody put up lights.”
Watkins said the lighting festival continues to grow each year.
“Some people take it very serious and others just sort of seem to enjoy it and just do their part,” said Watkins. “We have found it to be something that brings this community together. It’s just another reason we like to call Woodland home.”
Watkins said the city and county decorate public spaces and businesses, churches and homes also join in the fun.
“We’ve gone all the way out to the Highway (15) this year,” said Watkins. “We’ve got a giant reindeer and sleigh and people are stopping this year to get their picture taken sitting in the sleigh.”
Watkins said the Woodland Youth Council, individual business and homeowners put in a lot of hours to set up lights.
“We have the county inmates come down and that is always a big help for the city,” said Watkins. “But the rest is individuals and volunteers. Some of those displays really are a lot of work to put up and get working correctly.”
The weather does affect the operation and beauty of some displays, however, and rainy conditions are not the best for viewing.
“When it’s raining, several of them go out and there’s nothing we can do until it stops,” Watkins said. “Come see them when the weather clears up. Clear nights are the best.”
Watkins said Santa has been known to show up in Woodland to enjoy the lights and can usually be found at the intersection of Market Street and CR 340.
Watkins also said to watch for signs if no one is available to guide them along the route.
“They need to go the right way or they’ll miss some of the displays,” Watkins said.
Visitors are encouraged to stop at the convenience store on the way out of town and set their radios to 94.5 FM to listen to a musical display about the Nativity.