New president brings new displays to Oglebay’s Festival of Lights

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Wheeling's population is roughly 28,000. Last year Oglebay drew 250,000 people coming to see the lights. And this year, the park has sights set to break that record!

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Oglebay’s lights have made a name for themselves, with each year hoping to out-do the last and a lot of money riding on the performance. And this year there will be a new face orchestrating the show.  

Defrosting from the pandemic, tour buses are back this year and so are over 90 displays from 10 to 70 feet tall! 

A 20 man team has been working since before the Oglebay Fest. 

More sound displays are coming! The main drive to Wilson Lodge will be turned into a candy lane. It’s a treat that will be new to the eyes of hundreds of thousands of people. 

Last year’s visits were over 250,000. There were a record number of people who came through. 

Bob Peckenpaugh, President-CEO of Wheeling Park Commission

If you are a Festival of Lights traditionalist, you’ll notice right away that the iconic nativity scene no longer sits on top of the Oglebay fountain. But before you turn into Scrooge, it’s not because the park is doing away with baby Jesus! 

The structure is a little old and dilapidated. So, we need to refresh it and come back with something. Where it was is our new 70-foot welcome tree. And, if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s spectacular!

This is Peckenpaugh’s first season in charge of the Festival of Lights. So 7NEWS asked him, in his years of travel, if he has ever seen something quite this magical. 

I had something in my hometown, probably a quarter of a scale what Oglebay does. So, coming out in that interview weekend, my eyes just went big. I thought this group really did this right. I don’t know how it started but it really grew into something spectacular. 

Now being here and talking about the Festival of Lights all the time, you get a sense of who our competition is. Whether is Niagara Falls or Callaway Gardens. 

Bob Peckenpaugh, President-CEO of Wheeling Park Commission

It makes Wheeling a destination on a card. Peckenpaugh says because of this tourism, each year the Festival of Lights rakes in $140-Million spread throughout the Ohio Valley. 

So that $25 donation per car keeps the lights on, not just in the park, but for all of us. 

Those lights will stay on until January 9.

And if you like to stretch your legs, don’t forget the mansion and its 13 rooms decked out for Christmas. 

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