‘Bigger and Better’ Festival of Lights Ready for All Christmas Revelers to See

Misty Ward and Christie Martin place the WILO Christmas Music Box sign.
– Photos by Russ Kaspar

The 31st Annual Festival of Lights is ready to go for all the holiday visitors at TPA Park in Frankfort with Christmas music to accompany family journeys through the displays on WILO at 96.9 FM, 102.7 FM and 1570 AM.

The Festival of Lights , which began November 23, will run through January 2 from 6-11 p.m. with music available on WILO until midnight. The lights are expected to illuminate the Frankfort park beginning around 6:30 p.m. The light show is free for community members to attend as they explore dozens of light displays and receive free candy canes from volunteers at the Santa House. Santa Claus will visit every Wednesday beginning in December to meet and greet every family that visits. This year, the driving path will be adorned with Christmas Tree boxes to beautify the driving path, which was an idea proposed by Parks Superintendent Joel Tatum.

Every year, the Parks Department staff embarks on a journey to ensure that the Festival of Lights is “bigger and better” than prior years, and this year, staff members began constructing the displays as the fall season rolled into Frankfort with finishing touches placed within the past week to perfect the upcoming experience. Every year, many of the Parks Department staff members work on setting up the lights from September through the first week of December from Monday through Friday as well as weekend work to ensure that families experience a festive and unforgettable show for the holiday season. Park Supervisor Christie Martin commented that the department also strives to adorn the downtown Frankfort streets with lights as well to create an engaging path toward the endless light displays.

Displays of new and old adorn the route of the Festival of Lights.

“I do it for the enjoyment of the community,” Martin said. “It gives you a lot of pride in your community with the lights going up. Each year, it’s a new challenge. We try to move things around.”

In previous years, the assortment of beloved displays, such as the 12 Days of Christmas display, the toy soldier display and numerous Santa Claus-themed displays, are accompanied by newer displays, such as the display from Joseline Santos, a Green Meadows student who won the design contest to place a brand-new display at the Festival of Lights in 2022.

“My most enjoyment is when we have a new display and we need to try and change things up a little bit,” Martin said. “We feel a lot of times that we put up the same display. It’s fun to be able to find a certain spot and showcase a new display or highlight another display when we have a new part to it or add to it each year. It just makes it look cool.”

One of the improvements made within the past few years was the implementation of LED lights and new equipment that allow for the lights to be illuminated with only one plug-in rather than the Parks Department needing to place an outlet for every six lights. Martin commented that the improvement helps increase the aesthetic of the displays while also requiring less work during tear-down.

During her first year overseeing the Festival of Lights as the Parks Events Coordinator, Kaytianne Gellenbeck.

Tree boxes adorn the route to direct traffic. Gellenbeck commented that selecting a favorite display would be impossible due to the intricacies of some displays compared to the sentimental value embedded within the displays, such as the displays toward the entrance of the park that highlight the “12 Days of Christmas” theme, which Gellenbeck expressed was one of her ultimate favorites due to the song that remains as one of her favorite Christmas tunes.

“I’m learning all about them, what they mean, how long we’ve had them for and the reason behind them if they’re a memory tree or a memorial display, so it’s hard to pick a favorite,” Gellenbeck said. “They’re all fun and exciting to watch and look at it.”

For the 31st iteration of the lights, Gellenbeck’s appreciation for the displays, the festival and the work of the Parks Department staff remains. This year, Ozark Kettle Corn will be available every day during the event with weather permitting, and the TPA Park Concession Stand will serve bowls of soup and hot chocolate from Big Country BBQ. The Festival of Lights is a drive-thru event with a one-way route.

Classic displays are available for the community to explore.

Attendees will enter on Park Drive before traversing through the sea of lights and exiting toward Bob Sanders Drive and Burlington Avenue. Visitors are encouraged to drive through the displays at their own rate of speed, but the Parks Department requests that visitors do not exceed 10 miles per hour to ensure that every family within the Festival of Lights is able to view every display and talk with each other about their significance during the holiday season. Gellenbeck stated that visits may take upwards of 25 minutes to pass through the entirety of the displays depending on the speed of the vehicle.

As attendees traverse the pathways of lights, they may tune into WILO at 96.9 FM, 102.7 FM and 1570 AM for Christmas music to accompany the displays. The Christmas music has been made possible by local sponsors, including:

  • The Frankfort Parks Department
  • Day & Genda Funeral Home
  • The Farmers Bank
  • ProByte Computers
    Candy canes are available at the Santa House at the beginning of the route.
  • Hoosierland Roller Rink
  • Jim’s Heating & Air
  • BCS Boutique and Garden Center

Visitors are encouraged to visit with Santa Claus after the first week of Decemeber before he returns to the North Pole for Christmas. Donations to continue improving the Festival of Lights are accepted at the Santa House or by

Donations are accepted to continue improvements for the Festival of Lights every year.

calling 765-659-3422 or emailing [email protected].