The 25th annual Wonderland of Lights, a Texas holiday tradition, opens with star-studded lighting ceremonies at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23 in Washington Square.
More than a million lights will shine on Marshall’s town square, historic courthouse and a wonderland of attractions planned in the 25th annual Wonderland of Lights, a 40-day festival of holiday lights and family fun Nov. 23 through Jan. 1.
Opening night events and lighting ceremonies Nov. 23 are presented by Network Communications and The Marshall News Messenger.
Kaitlyn Maher, the youngest contestant to reach the “America’s Got Talent” top 10, lends her voice to opening night ceremonies and shares the stage with Miss Texas Kendall Morris.
Maher released her first CD, “You Were Meant to Be,” at age 5 and stars in two movies, “Santa Buddies” and “The Search for Santa Paws,” airing on the ABC Family Channel during its Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas.
The holiday festival celebrates its 25th year with new attractions, including the world’s biggest rocking horse, a 37-foot-tall toboggan mountain for sledding, and twice the outdoor ice skating on two Samsung skating rinks–one for families and another just for kids.
Double-decker bus tours and Clydesdale-drawn carriage rides offer best seats for Wonderland of Lights sights this year.
Favorite Wonderland attractions return, led by the synchronized light and music shows that delighted crowds in their debut last year. Presented by Celebrating Home and Steve and Penny Carlile, Wonderland Experience light shows animate the historic 1901 Harrison County Courthouse with 500,000 lights and special effects set to 28 favorite holiday songs in shows every 30 minutes.
Other crowd-pleasers include a life-sized snow globe that lets visitors step into the holiday scene, trackless mini-train rides, cooking classes for grown-ups and more.
The 25th annual Wonderland of Lights is produced by Z Group for Marshall Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A 1987 editorial in The Marshall News Messenger made a wish that has illuminated this town for 25 years. The editorial, published in hard times for East Texas, imagined “Marshall’s square, every tree, every bush, decorated with tiny white lights.”
Philanthropist and Marshall native Wendy Russell Reves responded with a generous donation to make that wish come true in the first annual Wonderland of Lights.
Today Wonderland of Lights is one of the largest holiday light celebrations in the United States, and more than 125,000 visitors make coming to Marshall a holiday tradition.
Former News Messenger editor and publisher George S. Smith returns to Marshall for opening night to be a part of the 25th annual celebration of the event he envisioned in that 1987 editorial.