Photo: Holiday lights reflect off the lake at the Olive Branch City Park as part of the Light Garden light show. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
A sneak peek preview and ribbon cutting for DeSoto County’s newest holiday attraction was held Sunday night amid rave reviews from those who turned out.
The Light Garden, a walk through holiday light show experience through the Olive Branch City Park opens Tuesday, Nov. 22, but the lights came on for assembled VIPs to see what creator Russell Lehman of The Events Benefits has envisioned. The plaudits for the Light Garden included Olive Branch Mayor Ken Adams, who was in attendance Sunday night for the show’s unveiling. Adams called it “just awesome.”
“A lot of people call things a destination event but this will be a destination place,” Adams said. “The good part is it’s all privately funded, no tax dollars are going for this, but it’s going to allow a very unique experience for people in North Mississippi and Shelby County, so it’s going to be widely visited I think, without a doubt. And, it gives us our fireworks show on New Year’s Eve, which we’ve never had before.”
Those who attend the Light Garden will see sparkling light displays, performances and artisan vendors as they walk through the park, including a walk around the pond at the centerpiece of the park.
A three-year agreement was reached between The Events Benefits and the City of Olive Branch to hold the show at the park. As well as being a holiday attraction, the Light Garden has a benefit to the City Park. Ten percent of the net profits from the show will go back to the city to help improve and further develop the park.
“We have over 60 local businesses who have supported us and helped bring this show to life,” Lehman said. “We have family members, friends, local people in the community who have come together and donated things who have supported the show and who have been involved. To me the most important part is how we’re trying to give back to the community with this event.”
Both Adams and Lehman were quick to point out that the Light Garden is privately funded and no tax dollars are being spent to hold the event. The private financing is coming from Jim Yates of J.L. Yates Services, who said he was impressed with how Lehman wanted to involve the community with the light show.
“I love the way we’re involving the community and the government and businesses to put on a really cool show for the community,” Yates said. “You have business and the community getting together to put on some arts for the people of DeSoto County and the Mid-South.”
Dates for the Light Garden this year are from Nov. 22-Dec. 31, not including Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Special events around the Light Garden are planned. They include a Military Appreciation Night on Dec. 7, a Dog Night on Dec. 12, a 5K run night on Dec. 17, a Special Homily on Christmas Eve, and special New Year’s Eve activities that evening that include a fireworks show. Hours are from 6-10 p.m. each evening.
The Light Garden will be a paid event and visitors aged three and older will need to purchase tickets, either online or at the gate. The entrance to the Light Garden is the east entrance to the park off Highway 305 at College Street.
More about the event, including online ticket purchases, is found on the Light Garden website.
More photos from Sunday’s preview are found on the DeSoto County News Facebook page.