The 2013 season of Grayson County Holiday Lights didn’t go exactly as its organizers had planned, but it didn’t go that badly either. Jeff Schneider, the man who spearheads the committee behind the lights, said the weather that forced the display to close for several nights might have put a dent in the organization’s budget, but the dent wasn’t as bad as first anticipated.
Keeping the lights open an extra week helped the lessen the blow.
Schneider said the display made $66,497 this year, near normal, said Schneider. And that is not bad considering the weather problems and the fact that the season was already going to be a short one.
“I’m very surprised,” Schneider wrote in an email. “We just really are thankful for the people who came out and supported the display and who always come out and support it.”
He said people continued to come the last week the display was open and their support was especially important. Schneider said the people who volunteered to work that last week were also a huge part of the success of the 2013 season.
Grayson County Holiday Lights does pay people county workers overtime to staff the lights each night of the season, but those employees are responsible only for keeping the lights working. The people who take up donations and hand out candy are volunteers.
Denison Chamber of Commerce President Anna McKinney schedules the volunteers and said it never ceases to amaze her how many people want to work the lights each year. McKinney said she didn’t think, back when the display first opened 13 years ago, that getting volunteers to work it would always be so easy.
The people who take up the donations and hand out candy are allowed to give away materials that advertise their group or business, but they are not given any part of the donations collected. Every dime taken in goes back to the display to pay the light bill, the overtime or to purchase new displays.
Schneider said 2013 will go down in the record books as the worst year for weather at GCHL but it will also go down as year when people really stepped up their support and that is a good way to end a season.
The season started with brand new LED displays and some extra roadway. The county extended the road for the display to make the LED figures their own section. Schneider said money for the road extension project came from the Oliver Dewey Mayor Foundation and the Elias & Hanna Regensburger Foundation. As in the years past, the city of Denison paid police officers to work security at the display each night of the season.
Once the displays are all packed away again they won’t come back out until October. Workers start putting the display together the day after the Grayson County Fair closes. The display traditionally opens the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs through the month of December.