Published December 2009 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd LIGHTING UP THE CHRISTMAS SEASON The Christmas season is here. It is that glorious time of the year when, everywhere we look, we will see celebrations of the birth of Jesus. There will be Christmas decorations, holly wreaths, Christmas carolers and Christmas trees. And there will be holiday lights - lots of them.
Holiday lights have become so popular that cities and organizations around the country now offer annual holiday festivals of lights. I am pleased to point out that one of the largest and oldest of these light festivals is here in West Virginia, at Oglebay Park in Wheeling.
Upon his death in 1926, Earl W. Oglebay willed his beautiful country estate to the people of Wheeling "for public operation." Two years later, Oglebay Park was established. Over the years, the Park has been developed into a multi-purpose, all-season resort that features a swimming pool, championship golf courses, skiing and many other recreational activities. I am proud to have contributed to the growth of this magnificent park by obtaining federal monies for the expansion of Wilson Lodge and the National Training Center for Public Facility Managers.
In 1985, the Park added what has become one of its most popular features, the Winter Festival of Lights. This holiday light show has attracted millions of visitors and is rated as one of the top 100 international events by the American Bus Association and one of the top 200 events in the country by Discover America.
The Oglebay Winter Festival of Light covers more than 300 acres and features over a million lights. The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers spans 45 feet across and contains more than 3,000 lights. A giant Poinsettia Wreath with Candles stands 60 feet high and 50 feet in diameter. The delightful Dinosaur Dell presents an animated display of these extinct reptiles.
There is so much to see at what has become one of our State's top tourist attractions. A display featuring the "Twelve Days of Christmas" covers the length of a football field. You will find Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the rest of the Peanuts gang, as well as a rotund "Willard the Snowman," a beautiful Nativity Scene, and a picturesque Candy Cane Wreath. When you drive through "Snowflake Tunnel" with its 36-foot arches containing 85 giant, twinkling snowflakes made of 6,000 bulbs, you feel that you are driving through. a snowstorm.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Winter Festival of Lights. I congratulate Oglebay Park on this milestone anniversary and encourage all to visit this wonderful holiday extravaganza.
December 16, 2009