LOGAN — It’s that time of year again: Chief Logan State Park will light up for the holiday season for its annual Christmas in the Park display starting this Thursday.
Christmas in the Park has been a tradition in southern West Virginia since it was started by the late Tom Rose Tomblin in 1994, turning on its lights for the first time every Thanksgiving night and running through Dec. 31.
The attraction is one of several seasonal lighting displays throughout the state and also one of the larger ones, according to Christmas in the Park President Tim Tomblin, the son of Tom Rose Tomblin. He estimates that upward of 100,000 visitors come to Chief Logan State Park every year to see the lights from all over the region, including Ohio, eastern Kentucky, Charleston, Huntington and surrounding areas.
Christmas in the Park is free to the public and is a nonprofit that is made possible by volunteers who both set up the lights throughout October and November and take donations while the lights are on. The volunteers consist mainly of local churches and civic groups, and Tomblin thanked four churches for providing meals to workers every day this year as the lights were being set up.
Just like everything else this year, things will be a little different as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Santa Land attraction will not be open. In addition to wearing masks and gloves, there will be fewer volunteers in a group at one time collecting donations.
The gift shop will still be open each evening from 6-8 p.m. However, Tomblin says a limited amount of people can be inside at one time.
Additionally, this year’s display will not feature as many brand-new lights as in previous years. However, a new family bear scene featuring a mom, pop and baby bear that visitors can put their heads through to take pictures with will be included.
Thanks to its already drive-through nature, however, the display isn’t affected too much by the pandemic, and Tomblin said he is thankful to be able to bring some joy in a year that’s been heavily marked by the virus and other negative events. He said this year should be an especially good year for the attraction for that reason alone.
“We felt like it’s something we can do socially distant,” Tomblin said. “We’re glad to be able to put it on with a lot of big events being canceled this year. This is something that people can come and enjoy and be socially responsible in regard to the COVID. People can come and enjoy this afar from their cars. They’re in the privacy of their cars and not out in a gathering with other people.”
Christmas in the Park will open Thanksgiving night, Nov. 26, and will be open until Dec. 31. The lights will turn on at 5:30 p.m. and turn off at 10 p.m. each evening.
People who want to see the lights are advised to enter the park from its regular entrance on W.Va. 10 in Justice Addition instead of the rear entrance on Tomblin Drive off U.S. 119.