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Festival of Lights to ring in the holidays

By Staff | Dec 3, 2010

The Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral’s Comcast Holiday Festival of Lights, which will feature drinks, food, vendors and various activities for everyone to enjoy, will be held from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. in downtown Cape Coral today, Saturday, Dec. 4.
Bob Knickman, special events director of the chamber, said every year they try to add new features to the annual Holiday Festival of Lights. He explained that this year between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. they will have something “extraordinary cool” during the tree lighting ceremony that will be a surprise for everyone.
State Rep. Gary Aubuchon will provide the count down for the lighting of the tree, which, for the first time. will be going “green” with 10,000 LED lights.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” Knickman said.
Joe Padgett, an LCEC executive, said although they have been involved in the festival for many years, this is the first year they became a higher level sponsor. The electric co-op will sponsor the Christmas tree and pictures with Santa Claus during the event.
“We tried to make it a truly green environment,” he said about the high efficiency lights.
“It will be brighter than normal,” Padgett said. “They are very energy efficient.”
Padgett said they are going to drive Santa into the festival in a very unique way after the tree lighting ceremony is done.
He explained that a local photographer will donate his time during the festival so children can have the opportunity to have their picture taken with Santa Claus. The pictures will be placed on the photographer’s website so parents can download them free. Pictures with Santa Claus will be available until the festival is over.
Knickman explained that this year’s Holiday Festival of Lights will feature the most performers they have had since he began planning the festival in 2004.
“Right now we have four stages with 22 different performances,” he said, adding shows will take place every 30 minutes. “That’s pretty good.”
The Kiwanis Club also will provide a free Tiny Tots Train Ride during the festival.
The Kidz Street will provide up to seven free attractions for children 12 years old and younger to bounce and play throughout the festival.
Founding Pastor of Cape Christian Fellowship Dennis Gingerich said they wanted to pay for the Kidz Street, so they could provide the area for free for the first time, so kids and families can have a good time.
When Gingerich moved to Cape Coral 25 years ago, his main focus and passion was to be connected to the community he served.
“This is one more way to do what we have been doing for many years…to reach out to the community,” he said.
Tim Collier Insurance Agency State Farm Inc. will sponsor a free 2- ton snowdrift slide Saturday night. Although it is their first time for sponsoring an attraction at the Holiday Festival of Lights, President Tim Collier said they have been a sponsor at another major festival, the July 4th Red, White & BOOM!, during previous years.
“We are really looking forward to being a part of it this year,” he said.
Collier said volunteers will carve out a slide in the center of the big pile of snow for the event. Individuals will have the opportunity to climb to the top, so they can slide down into a pile of hay. The entire area of the snowdrift slide also will be decorated with 25 real Christmas trees.
After the festival, Collier explained that the trees will be donated to a local church which will provide them to families in need.
“We are going to re-purpose them and give them to families in need to help make their Christmas bright,” Knickman said.
Collier explained that they also will have a raffle for a $100 Visa gift card.
“It’s a fun way to give back to the city of Cape Coral,” he said.
Every year the agency tries to do something to give back to the community. The Holiday Festival of Lights, he explained, is a great event because it is “built around families and kids…that is what we are all about.”
A basket auction also will be held during the festival to help raise money for the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral’s Doug Lockhart Fund to provide scholarships to local high school students. Knickman said between 30 and 40 businesses have donated baskets with different themes and at least a $100 value.
Knickman said in the past they have raised between $1,500 to $3,500 during the festival.
Knickman said they are expecting between 15,000 and 20,000 people to attend the festival Saturday night.
The Holiday Festival of Lights will “light up downtown Cape Coral for the holiday season,” Knickman said.
“This is the time of year that we are trying to give back to the community,” Padgett said about LCEC.
Energy advisors will be present at the festival to provide information about how individuals can save money on their electric bill.
“We hope all of Cape Coral shows up,” Padgett said.