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Monday, December 6, 2004 8:17:43 AM - Monroe Ohio

Light Up Middletown

Florella Randall, Chairperson  

4931 Riverview Avenue         

Middletown, OH 45042-4012  

Phone: 513-423-1877                            

Fax: 513-424-2038

Committee members:

Larry Biltz, Vice chairman

George Brecht, Treasurer

Ann Mort, Secretary/Communications

Barney Strassburger, Site Manager

Perry Thatcher, Business Advisor

John Ridge, Business Advisor

Earl Smith, Community Advisor





For more information call: Ann Mort at 513-424-2038/email  or Florella Randall at 513-423-1877.






The good news is there are seldom any long lines of cars waiting to enter Smith Park to tour Light Up Middletown. That is turning out to also be the bad news.


After the first eight days of operation, the fantasy light display held nightly at Smith Park in downtown Middletown is showing signs of the times. Like other business indicators, Light Up Middletown has lower attendance so far than in 2003.  Even with the lighter attendance, there were 12,041 people in 3,591 vehicles who toured the light display around the reflecting lake during the first eight days.


While numbers of visitors are down 16% from 2003 figures, of more concern to organizers is the much lower level of donations. Total donations dropped in the box at the entrance to the attraction are down 29% from 2003 numbers. According to observations, even fewer people feel the need to donate to the upkeep and improvement of the displays than in past years. 


Since the event began in 1999, admission has been by free-will donation, however with lower total donations, the amount of money available for upkeep and additional displays in future years as well as the park improvements which come from the proceeds will also be lower.


Volunteers greeting guests as they enter the park report that visitors are as enthusiastic as ever about the display which has added several new pieces for the 2004 season including six larger- than-life, fluttering butterflies in the trees, a hot air balloon, wooden soldier and entrance poinsettia swags all in lights.


Light Up Middletown is a non-profit organization which provides the month-long display from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, every night, 5:30-9:30 p.m. regardless of the weather, holidays included. Construction and maintenance is handled by a group of volunteers called “The Grandpa Gang.”  Volunteers from other area non-profits staff the entrance gate and gather information used for economic impact reports.  Each year, a donation is made to the Middletown City Parks for improvements.

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