Employees at Archer Park have been working on the annual Christmas light display since early September.
Park officials tested the lights on Monday, Nov. 20, and the display, featuring more than one million lights, is set to open at dark on Thanksgiving, Nov. 23.
It’s a tradition Archer Park has hosted for decades, and the display attracts thousands of people to Prestonsburg every year.
In 2015, 44,000 visitors drove through Archer Park between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the number of visitors increased to 45,000 last year, Park Manager Ritchie Schoolcraft said.
The park doesn’t just offer Christmas light displays during the holidays. For the past several years, it has hosted amusement rides from Casey’s Rides, the same Kentucky-based company that provided rides at the Jenny Wiley Festival this year.
Amusement rides, games and concessions will be offered at the park, starting at dark, every week day and weekend through Christmas.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, the park will also offer sleigh rides and other activities from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Santa Claus will greet children at the North Pole stage at Archer Park from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25, Saturday, Dec. 2; Friday, Dec. 8, Saturday, Dec. 16; and Saturday, Dec. 23. On Saturday, Dec. 9, Santa Claus will be participating in the Prestonsburg Christmas Parade in downtown Prestonsburg.
Schoolcraft enjoys greeting visitors during the holiday season at Archer Park, particularly the children who turn out for the activities.
“I like to watch the kids when they meet Santa Claus on the stage over here,” he said. “They love it.”
Visitors may make their own ornaments to hang in honor and in memory of their loved ones on displays that are dedicated to the fight against cancer, coal miners, veterans and fire and police officials. These displays will be located near the tennis courts area at Archer Park.
Again this year, the park will be collecting nonperishable food items for the St. James Episcopal Church’s Fishes and Loaves food pantry. Visitors may donate those items in a van that will be parked at Archer Park during the evening events. Signs will be posted for this donation drive and the park will also accept donations for the lights display in its yellow mailbox. Admission to the park, as always, is free, and there are costs associated with the carnival rides, concessions and sleigh rides during the evening hours.
The Prestonsburg Woman’s Club will host its annual Christmas in the Park at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7, offering face painting, games and a visit from Santa Clause on Dec. 7 at the Archer Park skating rink. Children will receive gifts at this event, which usually attracts hundreds of people.
The Christmas lights will remain on at Archer Park through the end of the year. Prestonsburg officials will also host a New Year’s Eve celebration at Archer park, with the Star Rising ceremony set to begin shortly before midnight on that day.