EATON — An Eaton tradition comes to life this week, as the lights go on for the 29th year of the annual drive-through lighting display known as Whispering Christmas.
What started with what organizers call “a few Christmas-loving people” and 800 lights in 1987 has turned into almost two million lights in a historic park that draws thousands of visitors from around the state each December.
Open nightly 6-10 p.m. through Dec. 31, Whispering Christmas is located at Fort St. Clair in Eaton and has something for everyone who loves the Christmas holiday — and it’s free.
On Friday-Thursday, Dec. 25-31 from 6-10 p.m. the display will be open, but the cabins will not be open for visitors.
The cabins will be open Dec. 1-24, 6-10 p.m, with refreshments served in Santa’s Cabin for a donation. Hot cocoa and orange drink and cookies are provided and served by local groups, churches and businesses. Commemorative coffee mugs are available for purchase for $5 each. Heated restrooms are behind Santa’s Cabin.
Santa Claus will pay a visit to the cabin every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-23, plus the entire week leading up to Christmas Eve, from 6-10 p.m.
According to Whispering Christmas Committee Co-Chair Connie Sturgill, on some nights without Santa, there is entertainment in the cabin. “Always the first Monday of the month, a barbershop quartet entertains us with marvelous Christmas music,” Sturgill said in a press release.
This year, the local Robotics Team has also set up some of the displays/lights to be animated to music, Sturgill added.
There is no admission fee to Fort St. Clair for the drive-through display, but donations are accepted to “help keep the lights on, purchase new displays and lighting supplies, and help to maintain the park grounds for future generations,” Sturgill said. “The entire set up and take down labor is provided by100 percent volunteers. This amazing, annual holiday tradition is brought to you strictly through donations. Please donate so that we can keep the lights on!”
There are three parking areas near both cabins so spectators may walk around to see some of the displays up close, visit the two cabins and the Little Christmas Village.
“Each year something new is added to this fabulous event,” Sturgill noted. “This year, we are proud to say that almost all of our displays have been switched to LED bulbs — to save energy and provide a brighter presentation.”
Want to volunteer? Contact the Whispering Christmas Committee at email@example.com or leave a message at the Eaton City Building, at 937-456-4125.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.