Space Coast LightFest kicks off Thanksgiving weekend
By Tammy Roberts
Senior staff writer
Things will look a lot brighter in Brevard this weekend, as Space Coast LightFest makes its 11th debut at Wickham Park in Melbourne.
For the first year, the Eau Gallie Rotary Club has teamed up with Brevard County Parks and Recreation to host the annual event, which has been known to bring in anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles each year.
From now through Dec. 30, the 1-mile park will transform into a winter wonderland each evening, featuring thousands of shimmering lights and animated displays for guests of all ages to enjoy.
Whether it's a light-studded Santa Claus in a rocket ship or dazzling reindeer shooting across the sky, the drive-through display is as mesmerizing as it is festive.
"It's really become a family tradition for so many people through the year," said Rick Roach, president of the Eau Gallie Rotary Club. "You just gather up the family, hop in the car and go for a drive. We've heard people singing Christmas carols - it's just a fun event for everyone."
While each light display is unique in its own way, perhaps the most memorable part of the event is the 200-foot-long tunnel, featuring more than 30,000 twinkling bulbs, that concludes the trek.
And if guests happen to miss anything, they can drive through the park as many times as they please with nightly admission.
The Eau Gallie Rotary Club, which was created in the late 1950s, created the event as a way to bring the community closer during the holiday season and raise funds to help its many charitable organizations.
In addition to providing a unique event for the Brevard County community, Space Coast LightFest also helps fill local food banks, such as the South Brevard Sharing Center and the Salvation Army.
Each year, guests who bring at least two canned goods per vehicle to the event will receive $2 off their admission cost.
"Last year, we collected four tons of food," Mr. Roach said. "Being able to contribute so much really encouraged us to bring the event back again this year."
Any leftover proceeds from this year's LightFest will be donated to such Brevard organizations as AMIkids, Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army and Devereux Florida, which provides behavioral health, intellectual and child welfare services to children.
Also, on Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 and 23, Eau Gallie Rotary will be offering a hayride that will travel through the park and spectacular light display. Cost is $5 per person or $15 for families of three or more, and children younger than 2 are free.
The Space Coast LightFest is one of Eau Gallie Rotary Club's largest fundraisers and takes nearly two months of preparation and dozens of volunteers to become a reality.
"It's a huge undertaking, but, it continues to be worthwhile," Mr. Roach said.
Space Coast LightFest will run nightly through Friday, Dec. 30 from 6-9:30 p.m.
Cost is $10 per car or $8 with two or more canned food items. Annual passes are $35.