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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Record number visited Festival of Lights in 2009

Friday, January 15, 2010

Some of the displays reflecting off the lake at Monett's South Park seen during the Festival of Lights. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
The Monett Chamber of Commerce's Festival of Lights at South Park had its most successful year ever in 2009. In its fifth year, the Monett Christmas season light show drew record attendance, donations and help from volunteers.

Between 7,000 and 8,000 cars were counted by volunteer "elfs" who staffed the chamber's booth at the end of the drive through the park. Visitors got to see 56 complete displays plus accent pieces such as lighted squirrels in trees and deer.

Three people were the average load in each vehicle going through the festival based on counts taken. Suzy McElmurry, executive director for the chamber, said that tally meant between 27,000 and 30,000 people viewed the display. Visitors came from at least six different states, according to license plate records kept by the volunteers.

Expressing their appreciation for the effort, visitors donated $13,200.83, a new record, to keep the festival going. The average donation was $1.96 per car. McElmurry estimated expenses will run around $4,000 when the normal supply of replacement lights are purchased.

"This year exceeded my expectations insofar as donations," McElmurry said. "What we hear most frequently is the Festival of Lights is uniquely Monett and is a Christmas tradition that you want to do over and over again."

One family has come every year from 2003 from Arkansas. McElmurry said the family's tradition has become a trip to Monett for dinner and then viewing the light displays.

The chamber is accepting orders for displays for 2010. Three individuals have contacted the chamber about purchases, McElmurry said. A 30 percent discount on displays is available through March 31.

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