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Wednesday, November 19, 2003 4:54:02 PM - Monroe Ohio

The 5th annual drive-through fantasy light display in Middletown’s downtown Smith Park is set to turn on thousands of twinkling lights on Friday, November 28 at 5:30 pm. For the first time, other holiday events will also be a part of opening night for Light Up Middletown.

Joining the opening night festivities will be the 5 pm official dedication of the first Middletown Mural at Central Avenue and Broad Street painted by muralist Eric Henn, lighting of the official city Christmas Tree, a parade to the Light Up Middletown site in Smith Park and the 12th Annual Middletown Journal Christmas Hot Air Balloon Glow which features food booths, entertainment by local choirs and approximately 10 hot air balloons. The balloon envelopes used to lift the craft during flight are tethered to the ground and lit with propane burners giving the appearance of very large holiday twinkling lights.

Horse drawn carriage rides will be available at Light up Middletown on November 28 and 29 and December 20 and 21. Cost for the carriage rides is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Santa and other friends will make occasional visits to the park throughout the season.

The 2003 Light Up Middletown display of animated, lighted penguins, floating swans, sea serpent, reindeer leaping over the roadway, Santa and his sleigh, a waving snowman, American flag and much more will include this year, a life-sized helicopter sitting near the actual runway of Hook Field airport which is adjacent to the Smith Park area.

Also new this year is a limited reach fm radio station playing seasonal music. As guests enter the park through the tunnel of lights a sign will direct those who wish to tune their vehicle radios to fm 89.7 with a signal that will reach only within the park area.

Smith Park is just off Verity Parkway and Tytus Avenue in downtown Middletown. Take I-75 to Exit 32 and follow the red Light Up Middletown signs to downtown Middletown. Access is also convenient from State Routes 122, 4 and 73.

Light Up Middletown will be open every evening, regardless of the weather from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, including holidays. Gates open at 5:30 pm. and close at 9:30 pm. The site is accessible to motor coach, retirement home vehicles and school buses as well as the expected 15,000 private vehicles who tour the park each year.

Admission to Light Up Middletown is by donation. Stop at the entrance to the tunnel and drop a donation of any amount in the box. There is no admission charge to the balloon glow.

Light Up Middletown is a non-profit organization raising money to support Middletown City park improvements. All construction labor and gate attendants are volunteers.

Ann Mort

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