Area residents have expressed disappointment at the disparity of Christmas lights, figurines and animated displays at Ada’s Wintersmith Park this year compared to years past. Sponsors say lack of funds and volunteers are the key issues hindering their efforts.
“We really need monetary donations to get the committee back in operation,” said Tom Runnells, committee vice-president. “At the beginning of this season we still owed $1,200 from last year.”
Though that amount has since been reduced to $700, committee members decided to take a year off to evaluate the public’s desire for future Christmas lighting efforts. “We took a step back this year to determine whether there was enough community support to continue or if everyone was just tired of it after all these years,” said Randy McFarlin, committee member. “We’re encouraged by what we are hearing. It seems the public wants to continue the lighting project. We just have to get the money coming in to afford it,” McFarlin said.
McFarlin said volunteers have also been in shorter and shorter supply. “We take apart the old electrical tape wrappings and rewrap the lights,” he said. “It isn’t glamorous to sit in a building in the middle of summer wrapping the structures and the volunteers have dropped off on that aspect,” McFarlin said.
The Ada Area Lighting Committee has been in operation for eleven years and is the sole owner of the lights. Tom Crabtree is the president of its nine-member board. In the beginning, the committee raised $10,000 to purchase and install the first displays. Insurance expense each year is $1,000 and an estimated 5,000 bulbs must be replaced annually.
The majority of the displays are hand-built and many are a dozen years old, Runnells said. “To purchase the really nice ones that are run by computer typically costs around $10,000 each,” he said.
“Pontotoc Technology Center students created many of our snowflakes, angels and candy canes,” Runnells said. “Pruitt Welding would turn our drawings into welded structures we could wrap with lights.”
Not everyone looks forward with glee to the annual Christmas lighting extravaganza. Runnells said park residents have to put up with quite a bit during the touring season as residents from the general vicinity come in droves to view lighting displays.
“The neighbors of the park on the south side, at the Oaks and down Scenic Derive were inconvenienced each year by having the detour and the extra traffic,” he said. They’ve had to put up with a lot. We have had over 1,000 cars of visitors on nice nights. Many people opt to park their vehicle and walk the trail around the park to see the lights.”