Festival of Lights ‘bigger, better and brighter than ever’

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The Festival of Lights display has dazzled both adults and children each year, and now Aurora’s signature winter event has expanded to be one of the largest free outdoor light displays in northern Illinois.

Families can drive through more than a mile of displays featuring a record 40,900 light bulbs during the holidays at Phillips Park, 1000 Ray Moses Drive. The Festival will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Dec. 26.

The event features lighted trees and displays such as Santa’s Toy Factory, Old Man Winter and other seasonal favorites, but has plenty of new additions this year after the acquisition of several light displays from the Town of Cicero. The Festival also was able to add 100 more lighted snowflakes, which are 4-feet by 6-feet, thanks to the Lake Land College vocational welding class at the Sheridan Correctional Center.

Even with a record number of lights and displays, newly installed LED bulbs will use 86 percent less energy than regular light bulbs. The sixth annual festival is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Aurora and the City.

“The Festival of Lights has become a proud Aurora tradition during the past several years bringing countless smiles to thousands of visitors. With several new additions, the festival will continue to make Phillips Park a regional attraction for people of all ages,” Mayor Tom Weisner said. “The partnership between the Rotary Club and the City also highlights another bright light in our community by raising money for our local non-profit organizations.”

Event organizers said nearly 17,000 cars traveled through Phillips Park in 2011 and expect that number to grow this year during the four-week event. The festival is free, but the Rotary Club does accept donations that benefit local charities.

More than 45 organizations that address a variety of community needs have benefited from the Festival of Lights since its inception in 2007. These organizations include those that serve the homeless, youth, seniors, domestic shelters, physically and developmentally challenged, and many others. Last year, Rotary raised more than $60,000.

“The Festival of Lights is bigger, better and brighter than ever with these new additions to our program,” said Mary Dougherty, event coordinator of the Rotary Club of Aurora. “We hope this free event continues to serve as a great source of community pride for Aurora.”

For more information on the event, visit the website at www.aurorafestivaloflights.com.

-- Provided by the City of Aurora