Much of the magic of Christmas is associated with colorful twinkling lights, from the first time a little one sees the Christmas tree all aglow to fond memories of driving around town admiring the neighbors’ light displays. Recapture that magic this year with Holiday Lights at Veterans Park, celebrating its sixth year of bringing Christmas joy to Cherokee County.
Holiday Lights 5K
The team at 112 Events will light up Cherokee County beginning November 19. The season will officially kick off with the Holiday Lights 5K event on November 19 at 6:00 p.m. when participants run, jog, or walk the 5K course through the display. Funds raised will benefit SERV Food Local, a locally focused program of SERV International, which works together with a community of volunteers and monthly donors to change the lives of local families in need. In 2021 the SERV program served more than 33,000 individuals in ten Georgia counties, distributing a quantity of food valued at more than a million dollars.
Following the race the park opens to vehicles at 8:00 p.m. Along the course, just under two miles, nearly two and a half million lights will be on dazzling display, almost a quarter million more lights than last year’s display. Also new this year are fifteen new animated displays and many more trees, according to event organizer Mark Lallathin of 112 Events. Along with business partner David Pitts, Mark has been making the holidays merrier for more than a decade. The duo has been putting on the Holiday Lights of Hope walk-through light display at Hobgood Park in Woodstock for eleven years. Cherokee County officials then asked them to “share some love” with the northern part of the county. Offering their insight and advice during the planning stages of Cherokee Veterans Park, Mark and David worked with Georgia Power and the Parks system to plan the power grid that supports the park, making it ideal for the annual display. The business partners then took what they learned through their involvement at Hobgood Park and worked together to convert the new display from a walk-through to a drive-through experience.
It Takes a (Christmas) Village
Although Mark and David have been the driving force behind organizing the annual event, it takes more than two to make it happen. Mark says that while there are days when it’s just him and David working on the displays, most often they have the help of community volunteers, including teams from SERV International and F3 Cherokee, a local division of F3 Nation, an organization that promotes free peer-led workouts for men. Mark laughs a bit as he remarks that the guys from F3 Cherokee usually handle the “heavy-lifting.” With an average of four to ten helpers a day, it typically takes about three weeks to put the entire display together and about one week to take it all down after the holidays.
Since 2016 the event has delighted hundreds of thousands of visitors from near and far. Mark says visitors from all fifty states drove through the magnificent exhibit at Cherokee Veterans Park during the 2021 season. Discover the delightful drive for yourself this holiday season! As you drive through, tune the car radio to WLJA Radio 101.1 FM for nonstop Christmas music to set the holiday mood. WLJA is an award-winning station dedicated to community service and a proud annual sponsor of Holiday Lights at Veterans Park.
“This is such a fun family tradition for us. Grab a season pass and enjoy all season long.”
– Jessica F.
“Such a great experience. We drove through at least three times to try to take it all in. The kids were in pure amazement and proclaimed it the ‘best night ever.’”
– Michelle L.
“Great drive-through light show! We took the whole family, and everybody thoroughly enjoyed it.”
– Chrissie B.
“Great place to take the family.”
– Francisco R.
“A wonderful, peaceful drive to see terrific holiday displays at an affordable price for families. It truly brought back childhood memories of driving around looking at lights.”
– Jeff B.
“The guys that set up this display have hearts of gold. Not only is it a great way to get into the Christmas spirit but it supports a lot of local [charities].”
– Gene B.
“It was beautiful. My four-year-old loved it. My fourteen-month-old enjoyed it as well. We drove through three times and saw something new and different each time. I highly recommend and will be visiting again.”
– Sheena Y.
Holiday Lights at Veterans Park is located at 7345 Cumming Highway in Canton. Event entry opens to vehicles at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 19 and will then open at 6:00 p.m. nightly through New Year’s Eve. Hours of admission are 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The display will remain open for visitors even on holidays, including Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve. Follow Holiday Lights at Veterans Park on Facebook for regular updates, including potential closures because of inclement weather.
Admission is $20 per carload or $50 for a season pass. Proceeds from the event benefit charitable community organizations including SERV International, Cherokee Recreation and Parks Agency’s Pay It Forward Foundation, and several local veterans’ groups.