By Caroline Nickolaus
Thousands of glowing, sparkling, dancing lights returned to Jones Beach State Park on Thursday, Nov. 20, for the 11th annual Long Island Lights Show and Parade. The drive-through event, hosted by Nikon, is about two-and-a-half miles long, and there are approximately 300,000 lights in the many animated, synchronized displays.
This holiday tradition has returned from its seven-year hiatus due to the efforts of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Jones Beach Revitalization Plan.” “The Holiday Lights Spectacular is a Long Island tradition that I am proud to help revive for the first time in seven years,” Cuomo said in an interview for ABC News 7 on Nov. 6. “This impressive display attracts visitors from all over, providing an important boost to Long Island’s economy. I encourage all New Yorkers to take a trip and see this spectacle for themselves this holiday season.”
Besides helping the economy, this event attracts many families, too. “It is one of my fondest memories from when I was younger,” said Colleen Dreyer, a senior Public Relations major. “Each Christmas, my family and I would look forward to visiting Jones Beach and drive through the light show. We would pack snacks and popcorn and we all loved it! I’m so excited that it will be returning after seven years.”
For the first time, a “Holiday Village” will be added to the Long Island Lights Show; it will attract children and adults where they can take a photo with Santa Claus, enjoy holiday-themed carols performed by school choirs, find their way out of a hay maze, and snack on hot chocolate and s’mores. The cost to enter the spectacular show is $20 per carload during the week and $25 on the weekends. By bringing a can of food for donation, you can get a discount on the admission fee. Each Tuesday, “Two for Tuesdays” allows visitors to drive through the show a second time, for free, to experience the magical lights all over again. This show will run every evening from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. during the week, and 11:00 p.m. on weekends through Jan. 4.