Holiday in the Park is up and running, even as work still is being completed on Lawton’s annual holiday display.
The 2021 display opened Saturday with its traditional parade and activities, to include the formal lighting ceremony that turned on lights for decorations that will remain illuminated every night through Jan. 1.
This year’s display includes new LED lights and new displays, to include a lighted pedestrian bridge that organizers say is the longest one in Oklahoma, and a synthetic ice skating rink located on the festival pad near the Holiday House along Northwest 3rd Street.
But, visitors have said not all the displays on the north edge of the drive are illuminated. Officials say the electrical work still being completed is not affecting Holiday in the Park — although it will allow some additional displays to be lit when it is completed.
The City Council voted in September to use up to $150,000 in Capital Improvement Program funding to install 20 pedestals and associated wiring along the east side of Northwest 6th Street near Museum of the Great Plains, which will allow expansion of displays long confined to Northwest 3rd Street. Northwest 6th Street enters the park near the museum and travels north before linking to Northwest 3rd Street; electrical upgrades will allow Holiday in the Park to create a loop through the park.
While the council had directed the work to be completed by Nov. 20, it is not quite done, said City of Lawton Communications and Marketing Manager Kaley Patterson Dorsey. Dorsey said the contractor brought in generators to use until the work is complete, which the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce expects within days, said Chelsea Rogers, who is coordinating Holiday in the Park for the chamber.
The chamber voted earlier this year to assume control of the event after being approached by the independent citizens committee which had run Holiday in the Park for years.
Rogers said the remaining work “is not affecting anything,” adding that once electrical upgrades are completed, more displays will be placed and lit. Both women said there aren’t any problems with the existing electrical grid on Northwest 3rd Street supporting the increased displays and activities on the park’s east side.
Officials in the City of Lawton’s Parks and Recreation Department said while the existing electrical system is sufficient, they want to expand it in the future to eliminate the use of extension cords and to host other large events, Dorsey said.
New events include a nightly staffing of the Holiday House and an ice skating rink on the nearby concrete pad.
Rogers said that rink has been open nightly since Holiday in the Park opened, with hours of operation to be 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The rink will be open nightly through Jan. 1.
Skaters are charged a $10 fee, with skates provided. Those who bring their own ice skates will pay $8, Rogers said.