EATON — Preble County’s month-long Christmas celebration at Fort St. Clair – the annual Whispering Christmas light display – was held this year, but it wasn’t without changes.
Families are usually encouraged to take in the lights wrapping throughout the woods and then join Santa in his cabin for hot cocoa, but this year, sightings of Santa and Mrs. Clause were limited to the jolly couple waving from the gazebo.
Guests going through Fort St. Clair were required to stay in their car, but it did not stop the Whispering Christmas Committee from putting on the display.
Even with these changes, Whispering Christmas Committee Co-Chair Amber Willeford said it has been a successful year.
“It has been really good,” she said. “It’s something that families can do together in staying inside their little bubble.”
With the display lasting through Dec. 31, it isn’t known for certain how many cars traversed through the light display, but Willeford believes it’s roughly over 20,000 as of Dec. 27.
“When we announced that we were closing the cabins, we were like, ‘brace for impact,’ because we knew that part of people’s tradition is coming out, having hot cocoa, visiting with Santa,” Willeford said. “So, we were a little bit nervous about how that was going to go over, but everyone has been super supportive and understanding and we just couldn’t be any more thankful for that support.”
New additions this year included the return of the waterfall and 2.5 miles of roadway lights to encourage guests to stay in their vehicles.
“We had a couple of volunteers who were really adamant that come back. They worked a few weekends to make sure that we could do that. They created the waterfall themselves with the timing pattern, so that was kind of an exciting thing,” Willeford said. “We spent a lot of time this year refurbishing old displays. Our 30-day countdown has all new light bulbs, which is nice.”
She added that there’s no way the display of over two million lights could have been put out without the “awesome volunteers” Whispering Christmas had.
“They should be the ones getting the shout outs,” Willeford said. “It takes a whole community to put this on, so we had everything from wePHOTO, Busy Bee Aerial Productions, giving us the opportunities to share some of the setup and the Santa videos, then the battle of the areas – all of the volunteers that come together.”
Whispering Christmas will remain open through Dec. 31 from 6-9:30 p.m.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles