A Colorful Christmas Season Tradition in Mifflin County

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“If
they enjoy looking at Christmas lights, we have a few of them,” joked
Darlene Gray, overlooking a colorfully lit Kish Park in Derry Township.

In just
seven years, the Shining LIght Through the Darkness walking tour has become a
Lewistown area Christmas season tradition. For many, it's a welcome break from
the hurried pace of the season. And. it's absolutely free, although donations
are welcome.

“It's a
fun time just to walk. Take a breather,” said Gray, a tour volunteer,
whose daughter Darla founded the walk. “You can come out and enjoy the
fresh crisp night air. See all the Christmas lights.”

Thousands of
lights decorate a nearly one mile loop around the park perimeter. Along the
way, colorful stop stations feature a variety of traditional Christmas
characters, several spiritual themes and a few places just for laughs. And,
with a nod to Christmas long ago, there are horse drawn wagon rides, offering
the chance to enjoy the holiday sights in snuggled groups. The event is hosted
by the Freedom Avenue United Methodist Church in Burnham that rents the park
for the event. The tour is set up and run by nearly 500 volunteers from
throughout the community.

“This
is a community outreach to let people realize what Christmas is all
about,” said Gray. “To let God's light shine during the season.”

To break
from the sometime freezing temperatures, visitors can warm up and fill up in a
snack shop. And, just a few feet away, another heated room features an
elaborate model train display, miniature Christmas village and Gingerbread
Houses.

Topping off
the visit, nightly entertainment is provided in a large cozy room that once
housed bumper cars when the property was a popular amusement park. Last year,
the event drew more than 10-thousand visitors, and, weather permitting,
organizers hope to do even better.

“It
just brings a smile to your face to see all the reaction of the people and how
happy they are when they leave,” said Cornelius Gray, while serving hot
dogs to chilled walkers.

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