The Lights of Christmas 2013 – a blessing in many ways

The Lights of Christmas Sunset Scene 2013

“Beautiful” “Inspiring” “Amazing” – these are words people use to describe The Lights of Christmas. The 2013 season was one of our best ever. With four fewer nights than the year before, we had better overall attendance than 2012 and the second highest year ever with over 63,000 people. Our largest night was our closing night, a “Pay What You Can” night, with 7,000 guests - a fitting conclusion to an amazing season.

People came, literally, from around the world. We met people from Europe and Asia who came to the Puget Sound area in December particularly for The Lights of Christmas. Guests came from up and down the west coast of the US and Canada with the largest number from within an hour’s drive away.

The commitment level of our volunteers has never been higher. Each night over one hundred volunteers rose up to help with parking, greeting, ticket selling, security, hosting, costume characters, and a host of other jobs. Several people worked all or most of the nights! We are so grateful for our volunteers. Truly, The Lights of Christmas is a community effort.

One of the more touching things the staff and volunteers have the privilege of doing is praying over the many prayer requests that are placed in the Prayer Chapel’s “Prayer Box.” Reading those requests gives you a deep sense of the depth of need residing in the hearts of many who come. One heart-stirring request was from a child simply asking for a “Daddy.” In this world where you hardly hear the words “Merry Christmas,” here is a place where hundreds of people ask complete strangers to lift up the deepest needs of their souls to God. There is no better picture of God’s Kingdom becoming visible than when beauty and wonder attract and serve to open one’s heart to hope.

The Christmas celebration is over for another year. But we pray that the work of God in people’s hearts and lives will continue on through eternity.

 

What's new at The Lights of Christmas?

That question is often asked during the months leading up to the opening of The Lights of Christmas. And every year, there are new things to discover when you come to The Lights!

The Victorian Lighthouse Inn is emerging this year as the Bayside Inn. There, you will find Harbor Light Gifts, a shop reminiscent of a seaside trading post, with jewelry and unique hand-made items from global artists, gourmet coffee and teas, and other never-ordinary treasures. Bayside Inn also features face painters and a wreath/swag making shop.

The Joyland Depot, a food venue where you could purchase a quick snack or beverage is changing into the Sweet Stop this year. You will still find snacks and beverages, but it will also feature delectable cookies and candies. Come treat your sweet tooth!

Gloria DisplayOf course, the light displays are always changing. The Gloria light display near the Nativity Scene has been expanded and now includes more angels. The flying ducks that used to be featured at the pond in front of Cedar Lodge are back this year, a part of the Natural Wonders display near Bruce the Spruce.

On the entertainment stages around the event, many popular performers are returning for another year, but the Joyland Concert Hall, Tinhorn Town, and Starry Night Coffee House will all feature some new performers. Take a look at the performance schedule on the Camp’s Lights of Christmas website to see who will be here and when.

Come enjoy The Lights of Christmas this year, and lavishly celebrate the gift of God’s Son to the world. The Lights are open for 18 nights between December 5 and December 29. For more information, go to the WarmBeachLights website or call 1-800-228-6724.

Parking and Recreation

The words “parking lots” and “Christmas” in the same sentence tend to conjure up feelings of chaos and frustration. Trying to find a parking space at just about any shopping mall during the month of December can take the season of joy and turn it into dread!

During The Lights of Christmas, there are volunteer groups who come year after year to make sure that our guests don’t have the joy taken out of their Christmas when they come to The Lights. One of those groups is the Marysville NJROTC.

NJROTC Vol GroupNJROTC stands for Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. This program was developed in 1964 as a citizenship development program at the high school level. Their mission is to instill in the students the values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment. The Marysville branch of NJROTC, pictured left, working on a project earlier in the year, has been volunteering at The Lights for the past six years. They come three nights during the event and fill every available Parking Attendant Position.

Randy Brasfield, the group’s leader, says his group continues to come back year after year simply because “The kids like to do it.” “They get the satisfaction of providing a service and they leave with full bellies, because the volunteer dinners are great! Especially the soups.” Randy said. “My favorite part of volunteering is watching the people and kids. When they get out of their cars, they have a smile on their face and spring in their step.”

Hats off to the Maryville NJROTC for their years of service. We simply could not make The Lights of Christmas happen without groups like yours.

We always need more groups like the Marysville NJROTC to serve in this way. If your church or civic group is interested in Adopting a Night to volunteer in parking, please contact Jessica Wilson at jwilson@warmbeach.com or call 1-800-228-6724 ext. 2276.

Ways you can get involved...

TWW Vols NewIf you are interested in helping make The Lights of Christmas happen, there are lots of ways you can pitch in!

Every year, The Lights of Christmas evolves and takes on its very own personality and this, our 17th year promises to be the best and brightest yet. This is due, in part, to many of the lights being changed over to light emitting diode (LED) strands. These are actually brighter and much more cost efficient. But none of the lights hang themselves in all those branches! Light hangers have been busy since the beginning of September. To get everything done in time takes more than just a light hanging crew!

During Thanksgiving Working Weekend, November 28-December 1, you can join over 100 volunteers for an extreme makeover weekend as we transform the grounds into a Christmas wonderland.

During The Lights of Christmas, which opens December 5th, over a 100 volunteers are needed per night to power the event. As you can imagine, there are a wide variety of jobs: indoor hosting, parking attendants, pony ride attendants, train conductor, and much more.

All too soon, it is time to clean everything up and put it all away! Unfortunately, we never seem to have enough volunteers for the Take Down, which happens this year on December 30th and 31st. “We spend months putting away decorations instead of taking a weekend if we had enough help.” said Velda Millard, The Lights of Christmas Coordinator. A good Take Down crew is essential to the success of next year’s event and how quickly we can wrap up the loose ends of The Lights this year.

To register or for more information about the above Working Weekend, volunteering for The Lights, or helping with the Take Down, you can visit our website at volunteer.warmbeachlights.com or call Jessica Wilson at 1-800-228-6724 ext. 2276.

Another year closes on The Lights of Christmas

LOC2012-2382-300We’re not sure if the term, “sweet sixteen” applies to special events, but sweet certainly applies to how the sixteenth annual Lights of Christmas went this past December. Crowds of people came to enjoy all the sights, sounds, and experiences of this celebration of Christ’s birth.

Despite a very soggy December, people came in good numbers. There were only about four of the 22 nights we didn’t have rain. Yet, by the time The Lights closed for the last time, more than 63,000 people had attended. That is only 9,000 less than the attendance at the 2011 Lights of Christmas when the weather was nearly perfect every night!

We put out a call for volunteers to come help us with this event. More than 980 people came, volunteering over 11,600 hours of service! Some of them worked nearly every night!

The comments we hear most often from the people who attend The Lights have to do with how a volunteer helped them, or shared a smile, or gave them helpful information, or blessed them in some other way. It isn’t just the beautiful light displays, or the donuts, or Bruce the Spruce that The Lights of Christmas are known for. It is also the volunteers who help make the experience such a special one!

Speaking of donuts, according to Pat Patterson, General Manager at Warm Beach, there were more than 130,000 donuts sold during The Lights this year. Pat calculates that if that many of those little donuts were laid end to end, they would reach all the way from the Camp into Stanwood!

We praise God for the blessings He poured out on The Lights this year and for the impact it had in the lives of so many people. Now it is on to next year as we begin to prepare for more fun and excitement!

Call for Artists: The Lights of Christmas

StarryNightCoffeehouseArtwork_webThumbWarm Beach Camp seeks local artists working in any two-dimensional media to submit visual art for display at The Lights of Christmas -- the largest holiday light display in the Northwest that combines live entertainment, children’s activities, food, and overnight getaway options. Visual artwork will be on display and available for purchase in the Starry Night Coffeehouse, an indoor venue at The Lights of Christmas, where attendees can take in live holiday entertainment including spoken word performances and acoustic music sets. The Lights of Christmas is expected to draw 50,000+ people for the month of December.

ORGANIZATION:

Warm Beach Camp, 20800 Marine Dr. Stanwood, WA 98292

Deadline to Apply: November 26th, 2012

Key themes related to this exhibit are: Stars, Light, and Christmas

Submission Guidelines:

  1. All work should represent the key themes.
  2. Submit on JPEG per entry via email to vmillard@warmbeach.com, Please include contact information, title, size of work and price.
  3. Maximum three pieces of work by each artist.
  4. Submission deadline is November 26th.
  5. Artists will be notified of acceptance results
  6. Accepted artwork must be exhibition ready and delivered on or before November 28th. Artwork will be on display from November 29 – December 29th, 2012.
  7. All art work must be for sale.
  8. Warm Beach Camp will take 30% of the sale price.
  9. All unsold artwork must be removed between December 30th and 31st.
  10. Artists must reside in Washington state.

CONTACT:

Velda Millard, The Lights of Christmas Project Coordinator

vmillard@warmbeach.com / 800-228-6724 ext. 2225

The Lights are even more fun when you bring the "gang"

LOCGroups_240A flurry of activity is going on around Warm Beach Camp as we get everything ready for the opening of The Lights of Christmas on November 29. This event has become a holiday tradition for families and many churches and organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest. People are touched as this lavish celebration of Christmas points to the amazing love that God gave us through the gift of the Christ Child and brings the real meaning of this holiday into central focus.

One way to experience The Lights is by bringing a group. You may have been at The Lights before, but when you come with someone who has never been here, you get to experience it all over again through their excitement. Coming with a group also gets everyone into the event at a special group price. Groups of 20 or more receive $2 off per person, and groups of 40 or more receive a $4 discount per person.

The Lights of Christmas makes a great holiday event for your family, church, Sunday school class, staff, or civic group. Several churches use this event as an outreach in their community, inviting those outside the church to attend with church members.

Each year, there are families who have their Christmas celebration at The Lights, bringing the entire family to a performance at the Baylight Dinner Theatre. Groups of eight or more to the dinner theatre receive a discount of $6 per person or $2 for the Sunday Dessert Matinee, plus we do the dishes!

I encourage you to share The Lights with your family and friends, church or civic group, as an opportunity to share the message of Christmas with those who have not yet received God’s gift in their life. You will find moments when it is just natural to share your faith, and many people tell us there is a special feeling when they are at The Lights. Share this feeling with those you love. Share the ministry of The Lights of Christmas this year.

I'm dreaming of The Lights of Christmas

LOC_Volunteers_240Christmas is truly a magical time of the year. That is particularly true here at WBC as everything comes together for The Lights of Christmas. But this event doesn’t happen by magic. A lot of planning and work goes on all year long to pull it all together.

The light hanging crew start hanging lights the first week of September and their work isn’t finished until all the lights are down in early February.

The effort always builds to a fever-pitch in November and December! One of the high points is the Thanksgiving Working Weekend, November 22-25. During this event, volunteers help to do the final set-up, placing the last of the indoor and outdoor decorations. Velda Millard who orchestrates this event said, “During Working Weekend, you get to meet new people and be a part of this huge event.”

During The Lights of Christmas, which opens November 29th, more than 100 volunteers are needed each of the 22 nights the event is open. As you can imagine, there are a wide variety of jobs: indoor hosting, parking attendants, pony ride attendants, train conductors, and much more.

And then, as suddenly as it all began, the event is over! And yet, even then we aren’t through. The two days after The Lights closes, December 30 and 31, is “Take-Down,” the last big push to make the event happen, when the decorations are all packed up and put away in storage.

This is always when we have the hardest time getting enough volunteer help. Velda says, “Unfortunately, if we don’t have enough volunteers for Take-Down, we spend months putting away decorations instead of a couple of days.” A good Take-Down crew is essential to the success of next year’s event and determines how quickly we can wrap up the loose ends of The Lights this year.

The volunteers of these three events are the heroes of The Lights of Christmas! Would you like to join us? To sign up or see a complete listing of volunteer opportunities, go to The Lights of Christmas Volunteer Page on our website.

Let the magic begin!

What's Up with The Lights?

Lights_Photo_12_250Are you interested in being a volunteer for The Lights of Christmas this year? Whether you are an old hand at volunteering for The Lights or you are thinking about getting involved for the first time, we have a program where you can hear the new plans for the event, learn about all the volunteer opportunities, and get answers to your questions about what’s up with The Lights. In fact, that’s what it’s called: “What’s Up with The Lights?”

But, there’s more! This is an opportunity to reconnect with your camp friends and get special discounts at The Camp Store, and we even provide snacks!

“What’s Up with The Lights?” is Sunday, October 7, from 3 to 5 pm in Cedar Lodge. Please come join us for this informal time of fellowship, fun, and helpful information. It will get you in the Christmas spirit early this year!

If you can’t make it to “What’s Up with The Lights?” you can still get information about volunteer opportunities and even sign up by going to the Camp’s volunteer website. You can also call Jessica Wilson, WBC’s volunteer coordinator, at 1-800-228-6724 ext. 2276 to get more information.

See The Lights from the inside this year. Be a volunteer!

The Lights of Christmas. What an Amazing Run!

LOC_2011_250The Lights of Christmas this past December was amazing. The weather was amazing. The number of people who came to the event was amazing. The lives that were touched by the event were amazing. The whole thing was…well, amazing!

The weather prognosticators said that we could expect a colder, wetter winter. We prayed that this wouldn’t happen until December was over. And the weather was unusually mild for nearly the entire month! What a blessing.

We asked that the Lord bless the event with good attendance. More than 72,000 people came, far surpassing the previous record high of 56,000! There was one night when 8,700 people came, and we finally had to close the front entrance and turn people away. Maybe that was more blessing than we wanted. But we are thankful for each person who came to experience the celebration of Christ’s birth.

We put out a call for volunteers to come help us put on the event. More than 720 people volunteered one or more nights during the 20-night run of The Lights. Some of them worked nearly all of the nights. We were blessed again!

Then we learned that The Lights of Christmas had been honored by the American Bus Associate (ABA), an association of tour bus operators, naming The Lights as one of the top 100 festivals in North America for the third year in a row. And Mainstreet.com named The Lights one of the ten best light displays in the United States. Truly amazing!

Last month, The Lights of Christmas received an Excellence Award from the Snohomish County Health department in the category of Temporary Food Service Establishments. Awards for excelling in food service practices were given out in six different categories, the winners selected from among the 3,300 food service establishments in the County. We were honored!

We praise God for the blessings He poured out on this year as we lavishly celebrated God’s gift to the World — His Son Jesus.

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