“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone?”
— “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell, 1970
We lamented the demise of the holiday light show at Rocky Gap State Park, when a smaller version of it was packed up and moved to downtown Cumberland in 2010.
As is too often the case with good things, interest in keeping it up and even going to see it had waned since it was launched in 2001.
Attendance in 2009 was down about 27 percent from the year before and had declined by nearly half since 2004, when about people in about 7,800 vehicles went through it.
Mountain Reflections, as it was called, had been started as a fundraiser by the Western Potomac Chapter of the American Red Cross, but profits had declined from about $45,000 in most years to about $20,000 in 2008.
Setting up the displays required the work of about 40 people over two weekends, and the number of volunteers also declined. This diverted human resources from the chapter’s main mission of providing blood services, training in CPR, first aid and water safety and helping families in time of emergencies.
The chapter understandably decided to discontinue its sponsorship of the event, and no new sponsor could be found.
Part of the display moved downtown, and although it was amazing to see, it just wasn’t the same.
People didn’t even have to get out of their cars to see the show at Rocky Gap. They could drive through it, and many of us went to see it more than once each season.
Those who loved it didn’t give up on it, and it returned in December 2016 as Lights by the Lake.
This year’s display started Nov. 24, featuring more than 150,000 LED lights in a show synchronized to music you can listen to on a car radio. (See: “Lights by the Lake to include Saturday events,” Nov. 24 Times-News, Page 1A)
Mayor Brian Grim, chairman of the group that brought the light show back last year, said viewers can drive through or park and watch for more than 30 minutes, then go through it again if they wish.
It “has no time limits as to how long visitors may view the show, though the gates do close at 10 p.m. We encourage visitors to park and stay for a while,” he said.
“It’s a good family-friendly event,” said Grim.
The light show will be open to the public from 6 to 10 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in December through Christmas Eve.
Events will include a live nativity coordinated by Cornerstone Baptist Church (Dec. 2), photos with Santa (Dec. 9), build-your-own ornament sponsored by Living Waters Ministry (Dec. 16), drawing for an iPad and other gifts (Dec. 23), and a Christmas Eve event (Dec. 24), when cookies and icing will provided and children can decorate to take home for Santa.
The cost for entry will be $7 per passenger vehicle, $12 per large van and $25 per bus.
For more information, visit Lights by the Lake on Facebook and online at www.LightsByTheLake.com.
We don’t like to give up on good things around here, and sometimes we actually succeed in bringing them back. That speaks well of us.