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Lights for Holiday Nights

Washington Township’s treasured holiday tradition, Woodland Lights, celebrates 30 years.

Washington Township’s Woodland Lights, celebrating its 30th year in 2022, is a community tradition that spans generations. And as Township Sr. Recreation Supervisor Addie Weaver says, “It’s a gem of Washington Township to be treasured.”

During her first year heading up the event in 2021, Addie met a grandmother who had been attending Woodland Lights since she was a teenager and was there with her daughter and her grandchild. “It was so nice to see multiple generations enjoying the event,” shares Addie. “It’s a tradition that’s a thread that runs through the whole community.”  

Back in the early 1990s, a group of citizens proposed offering a holiday event to township administrator, Michael Morton. He worked with the group to design the event, billed as a “Tranquil Walk through a Holiday Lighted Forest” to be held at Countryside Park, which had been donated to the township in 1988 by Thomas Stolz. When it began in 1992, it was one of the first lighting events in the area and relied mostly on volunteers with a few paid staff. 

First assigned to head up the event, recreation staff members Jim Schneider and Melanie Rohrig coordinated with the event committee, nearly every department in Washington Township and community volunteers. Eventually, Jim and Melanie moved on and the event responsibilities passed on to now retired Sr. Recreation Supervisor, Linda Madden and Park Maintenance Technician, Vinnie Keane. As the event grew and brought in larger crowds, part-time staff were also added to supplement the volunteers. 

Linda shares about her experience, “Though there were many special moments with volunteers and staff, the most special for me are all the hours Vinnie and I worked on the design and the connections with staff and visitors that made my holiday as bright as I hope my efforts gave to them!”

A commitment they’ve stayed true to over the years is always changing and improving upon the year before to keep things fresh and interesting for guests. The staff starts looking at catalogs of new displays starting in January, vignettes and lighting features change locations and are added to, new activities are planned and Santa’s cabin features different decorating themes each year. It is truly a year-round effort by Washington Township Recreation staff and the community. 

As Vinnie, who is now heading up the ever-changing lighting displays for his 28th year points out, “Who wants to see the same show every year? It really is a neat show that grows by leaps and bounds each time.” Linda adds, “We wanted Woodland Lights to be just as important a tradition for people in the community and those traveling to the area as the Americana Festival is in July.” 

With an average of 19,700 attendees (which includes the COVID years), they expect record attendance for the festive 30th year of Woodland Lights. Sam’s Club and the Levin Foundation are Platinum sponsors this year, AARP is a Gold sponsor and many others are sponsoring specific experiences and additions, including four new benches and two photo ops built by the Boy Scouts. 

“Come ready to enjoy the atmosphere,” says Addie. “I love how happy everyone is to be here, it’s very special to be a part of that.” And who knows, maybe there will even be snow in the forecast to add to the magic! 

Woodland Lights 30th Year 

Check out a sampling of what’s in store for this iconic holiday event. 

Woodland Lights Fun Facts:

  • 26.1 acres to cover with a 1.5-mile walking path.

  • 15 electrical service panels throughout the park.

  • There are more than 3 miles of extension cords used.

  • 4-5 new displays/features each year.

  • All lights transitioned to LED, meaning more lights in the park due to energy savings.

  • Some of the displays are original – visit this year to find them!

Returning Activities:  

Santa’s Cabin: Visiting Santa is now accessible thanks to a ramp provided by Centerville Rotary. The Centerville-Washington Township Library will also offer a new Storywalk along the path behind the cabin. 

Mini Train Rides: Featuring two trains to keep lines moving and vignettes and displays exclusive to the train ride. 

Virtual Gingerbread House Contest: A classic from Woodland Lights past returns with a fresh format for a new generation to enjoy. Additional details will be provided on Facebook!

More Guest Favorites: Character Night, Carnival Night and Carriage Rides 

Sponsored Experiences: 

Lover’s Lane: Walk down a romantic, red-lit path and take photos with your sweetie at this new experience inspired by the tradition of Woodland Lights proposals and sponsored by Elizabeth Diamond Company. 

Woodland One-derland Walk: Earn tickets to win prizes for each mile you walk! Dreamed up by the Fitness department and sponsored by Up and Running.  

Scavenger Hunt Night: Find all the items listed for a chance to win a new bike! Huffy/United Bike will provide four bikes as prizes.

Special Nights: 

Opening Night: Re-dedication and celebration of the history of Woodland Lights on Nov. 18. 

SICSA Pet Nights: Bring your furry friends to the lights on Nov. 20, Dec. 3 and Dec. 19. 

Throwback Thursday: Get a blast from the past on Dec. 1, with highlights from 30 years ago. 

Military Night: In honor of Pearl Harbor Day on Dec. 7, military members get in free with ID. 

Star Wars Night: Enjoy a fan night on Dec.16, featuring costumed characters and themed activities. 

Live Animal Nights: There will be a few nights to visit with animals throughout the season, including Dec. 20. 

Longest Night of the Year: On Dec. 21 the lights will stay on until 11 p.m. with a “glow night”  theme featuring glowing apparel and other items available for purchase.

Woodland Lights Event Details 

Location: Countryside Park

Dates: 

November: 

18-20 Fri-Sun

25-27 Fri-Sun

December: 

1-4 Thurs-Sun

8-11 Thurs- Sun 

15-23 Daily 

Hours: 6-9 p.m. Gates close at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets: $9, under 2 is free.

Season Pass: $20.22 to enjoy all of the events of the Woodland Lights season, plus passholder perks! Perfect for locals who want to make the most of all the season has to offer. 

More special event nights will be released as the season gets closer, so follow the Woodland Lights Facebook page for all of the latest info on events, giveaways and contests and visit WoodlandLights.org for tickets, passes and more.

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