Breaking down the Festival of Lights takes months

Employees breaking down the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park (WCIV)

By Sonya

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Do you dread taking down your Christmas decorations? Imagine having to pack away all 750 displays from the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park.

The popular event in the Lowcountry features more than 750 different displays and costs roughly $1,000 a night to light.

"We have been proactive over the years and we have gone to a lot of LED lighting. The cost has come down and the products have become better. We are still researching it and like everything else, the technology, the material gets better," said David Chappell, Director of Capital Projects at James Island County Park.

All of the displays are made at the park in a warehouse, but that is just part of the work that has to be done.

"We have one crew, the Holiday Festival of Lights crew, that work on it year round so there is a lot of prep work, a lot of design work, repair work, refurbishing work," said Chappell.

Between now and March 1, that crew will be focusing on the breakdown process.

All of the light displays are disassembled and packed up with the exception of the one of the Ravenel Bridge. The reason it stays? It's 30 feet tall and roughly the length of a football field.

"We will fill about 28 trailers. These are specially designed trailers for us to layer as you will like a bookshelf a display down and then we go to the next site, we'll put another display on top of it with racks and we'll go to about 11 feet high per trailer, and then we cover them just like the old wagons out west with a tarp, a UV protectant tarp to protect the displays to keep a longer life to them," said Chappell.

With over three miles of lights to view, the festival attracts people from all across the country.

"The Holiday Festival of Lights actually was nominated as one of the Top 20 events by the Southeastern Tourism Society for November 2013, " said Sarah Reynolds, Publicity Coordinator at Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission. "And actually by November 2013, by the end of the month, we had seen all 50 states. We have seen license plates from all 50 states including Hawaii and some from Canada."

All this bling packed away for another day, but not before entertaining more than 200,000 people this year.

2014 will be the 25th year for the event, so there are big plans to celebrate.

The crew will start setting up the day after Labor Day and you can start checking out the lights starting Nov. 14.

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