Holiday Festival of Lights brightens many Lowcountry holidays

By Stacy

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Everyone has their own tradition.

"The two girls are best friends. We always bring them here together," said Kristy Cifuentes, mother of Alejandra, 5.

"This is Morgan and it's her favorite thing to do in the holidays," said West Ashley's Sarah Fitzgerald, while she held her dog.

"It means a lot to him. He really loves Christmas," said Angela Bruce with Jeffrey Sheriff, an autistic man who visited Santa.

Charleston County Parks reserved Santa to spend individual time with Sheriff, who also got a special train ride.

For the 24th year, the Holiday Festival of Lights illuminated the season for families around the Lowcountry. The festival makes James Island glow every November and December. But it's a year-round effort that makes it all shine.

"Our chief light show supervisor, his entire job throughout the year is just working on the festival of lights, coming up with ideas for new displays, refurbishing old displays," said Sarah Reynolds with Charleston County Parks.

With constant work, comes constant demand for newer and better. Reynolds said there were about 2 million light bulbs at the festival, which make up 750 displays.

And everyone has a favorite.

But if you want to park the car, there are also other options, like roasting marshmallows or taking a steam-engine train ride with the kids around the entire festival.

"Park the car, walk around, take part in other activities like the carousel, visit with Santa," Reynolds said.

"I have seen them adding more and more of the lights, adding different displays. It's absolutely fabulous. So much to look at, so much to see," Fitzgerald said.

Admission is $15 per vehicle with up to 15 people. Patrons who bring a Lowcountry Food Bank donation Monday through Thursday receive $5 off admission.

The festival runs through Dec. 31.