With the holiday season approaching, residents are likely to be wondering how they can safely get out and enjoy some festive spirit despite the COVID-19 restrictions.
Many events have been altered or canceled altogether due to safety concerns.
One such event is the Milledgeville Christmas Parade. The Milledgeville Exchange Club, the organization that puts on the annual parade, made the difficult decision earlier this fall to not host the event this year due to continued uncertainty about the spread of the virus.
Much like the parade, Lockerly Arboretum’s normal holiday festivities were put on hold this year due to concerns about the coronavirus. That did not stop Lockerly director Jennifer Pollard and her team from finding a creative alternative to celebrate the holiday season.
“It opened up an opportunity for us to think about how we do things differently,” said Pollard.
From this, a new event was born, Lockerly in Lights.
Pollard said she and her team felt that a drive-thru event was the perfect solution for a festive experience that would allow for social distancing. For the last several weeks, they have been hard at work hanging lights and setting up displays to turn Lockerly’s grounds into a winter wonderland. Pollard said that she is grateful for the outside help that has been critical in making the event a reality.
“We were able to find Adam Bartlett from Covington with wehangchristmaslights.com. He came down and he has been amazing to work with,” said Pollard.
Pollard is also grateful to the corporate and civic sponsors from throughout Milledgeville who have stepped up to help support the event.
“Normally, we have Lockerly Under the Stars in September, and earlier in the year, we had already gotten sponsorships,” said Pollard. “When we realized we weren’t going to be able to do Lockerly Under the Stars, I went back to those sponsors and said, ‘Hey, we’re shifting gears, and this is what we’re looking at. Would you be interested in shifting your support to this event instead?’, and they were very excited. All of our sponsors have been just wonderful to work with.”
One of those sponsors happens to be the Milledgeville Exchange Club. When Pollard heard the club was thinking about canceling the annual Christmas parade, she reached out to see if they would be interested in helping Lockerly Arboretum present an alternative holiday event.
“They have been incredibly generous,” said Pollard. “Not only are they sponsoring the event; the Exchange Club is also volunteering to help.”
Lockerly in Lights will take place each Saturday evening from Nov. 21 through Dec. 19. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Saturday, the lights will be turned for a drive-thru experience featuring festive holiday displays.
“It’s all LED lights, so they’re very vibrant colors, really beautiful,” said Pollard.
The cost of the event is $10 per car. Cash or check payment is accepted, and all proceeds go to support Lockerly’s programming and mission. A 10-passenger vehicle limit is in place to ensure safe passage over some of the bridges along the route.
On the December dates, Lockerly in Lights will also feature entertainment. On Dec. 5 and 12, enjoy excerpts from The Nutcracker performed by Georgia College dancers, and on Dec. 19, Dewey Forrester will play piano music. Viewers are encouraged to roll down their car windows and enjoy the entertainment as they drive along the route.
“All of that we’re setting up right in the middle of the meadow so that you can see it from various vantage points as you’re driving,” said Pollard.
Pollard said she hopes to make Lockerly in Lights an annual event. Drawing inspiration from the popular light displays at Calloway Gardens, she hopes the event can grow into something that can be adapted into a walk-through event in years to come once the pandemic ends.
“We definitely hope that this is an event that we can build in the years to come,” said Pollard.