OCEAN CITY – Winterfest of Lights broke a record this past Thanksgiving weekend holding the largest attendance in the past decade.
Who could have resisted the unusually warm November evenings and holiday light displays ranging from sharks to dinosaurs, as well as the 12 Days of Christmas? Not many, according to city officials, which is why parking was slim to none and lines were as far as one could see last weekend.
The 19th annual Winterfest of Lights had more than 21,000 visitors ride through on the Winterfest Express tram ride Wednesday through Sunday last week. The attendance marked an increase of more than 900 visitors from last year’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The event took off on Nov. 17 with a tree-lighting ceremony and a performance by the OC Stars from Ocean City Elementary School. Winterfest will run through Jan. 1 at Northside Park on 125th Street on the bay.
“We were pleased to host everyone at Winterfest over the holiday weekend,” Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department Director Tom Shuster said. “Winterfest continues to grow in popularity and the appeal of this event for families gathering together in Ocean City for the Thanksgiving holiday remains strong.”
The mile-long tram ride through the illuminated holiday displays is not the only activity to take part in while attending the Winterfest of Lights. Hot Chocolate and snacks are available at the Winterfest Pavilion and the Yukon Cornelius Gift Shop has merchandise including ornaments available for a souvenir or holiday gift. Santa is also available to have a photo taken with nightly until December.
The light displays are brighter than ever since the bulbs began to be replaced starting last year. Many displays have been re-bulbed with new third generation LED bulbs this year, including the 50-foot Christmas tree. The new LED lighting is brighter, stronger and saves on electricity.
Admission to the Winterfest Pavilion is free and on selected nights, free musical entertainment will be scheduled.
Winterfest Express tram rides are $5 for 12 years of age and older, and children 11 years and younger ride for free.
Winterfest of Lights is presented Sunday through Thursday 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.