Branson ‘Flips the Switch’ on five million lights

More than 5 million twinkling lights will illuminate the skies above the Tri-Lakes Area during the 2004 Branson Area Festival of Lights (BAFOL). A ceremonial ‘flipping of the switch’ will kick off the Ozark Mountain Christmas lighting spectacular at 5 p.m. Monday, November 1 at the Yakov Smirnoff Theater, located on Hwy. 248 near the intersection of Hwy. 65.

The public is invited to join city leaders at the free reception as they ‘flip’ a 10-foot light switch. Everyone that attends will receive a complimentary visit, provided by Ride The Ducks, to the Festival of Lights Parkway, the area’s centerpiece drive-through lighting display. The BAFOL Parkway extends for two miles along Branson Hills Parkway near Hwy. 65 and Bee Creek Rd. More than 500,000 lights adorn dozens of animated displays along the Parkway including the ever-popular “12 Days of Christmas,” Santa and his leaping reindeer, sailboat races, a nativity scene, a Victorian Christmas scene, and many others.

In addition to the Parkway, guests visiting the area during Ozark Mountain Christmas can see more than 280 lighted displays lining the famous stretch of Mo. Hwy. 76 from downtown Branson to the western edge of town.

The Branson Area Festival of Lights Parkway is open from 5 p.m. through midnight seven days a week November 1, 2004 – January 1, 2005. Admission is $7 per family vehicle and $50 for each commercial bus or motor coach. Unlimited admission passes are $15 per family vehicle and can be purchased at the Parkway or at the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Welcome Centers, which are located at the intersection of Hwy. 248 & Hwy. 65, and at the intersection of Hwy. 160 & Hwy. 65.

Last year, an estimated 30,000 family vehicles and 1,100 commercial vehicles toured the parkway generating approximately $250,000 in revenue. Income raised at the Parkway and contributions from area sponsors go to support the BAFOL displays, which take several months to set up and require ongoing maintenance. This year’s platinum level sponsors include Buckingham’s Restaurant at the Clarion Hotel, Fairfield Resorts, Golden Corral, Grand Country Square, Hollywood Wax Museum, IMAX Entertainment Complex, Legends in Concert, Myer Hotels, Ozark Mountain Bank, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Skaggs Community Health Center, Stone Hill Winery and White River Valley Electric Cooperative among others. This year’s media sponsors include Hometown Radio, KHOZ and KTTS

Universal Concepts, the nationally known company that built many of the displays in the Parkway has also created lighting displays for Walt Disney World, the Centennial Olympic Park, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach, Dollywood and Anheuser Busch.

“This community has put a lot of effort into enhancing the holiday experience for visitors. Branson offers spectacular Christmas shows, millions of lights, and countless shopping options, plus dozens of other ways to be entertained with friends and family,” said David Arney, president and CEO of Akers and Arney Insurance Associates and chairman of Branson Area Festival of Lights Committee.

The spectacular beauty of the Parkway and other area lighting displays has been captured in a professionally produced 30-minute video, available at the Welcome Centers for only $20 for DVD and $15 for VHS. Maps of the area’s lighting displays can also be picked up at the Welcome Centers.

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