For the 14th year in a row, the Aurora Festival of Lights has returned to Phillips Park thanks to the Rotary Club of Aurora. One of the largest free outdoor holiday lights displays in the area showcases some exciting new additions like the helicopter display along with traditional favorites. Current Rotary Club president Gretchen Timm and former president Byron Saum were excited to unveil this year’s setup.
New Additions and Old Favorites
Byron Saum: “Of course our entrance arch right at the beginning is really impressive. It goes up over the roadway. Some of the other highlights, the tunnel of lights. People enjoy going through that. A couple of years ago we had someone propose to his wife to be in front of the tunnel of lights. The toy factory is another big display, animated, things in motion. We have some smaller arches with deer that leap over the roadway, to the left and to the right. There are three in succession. We have 150 or so snowflakers up high in the trees. We have a grove of huge hickory trees and it’s just kind of a magical look.”
Gretchen Timm: “When you enter the park you can turn into a radio station and listen to the festival music throughout the show. And halfway through there are singing reindeer that are singing along to the music.”
Since it began in 2007, the Aurora Festival of Lights has been a drive through event. But with fewer activities currently available to local residents due to COVID mitigations, the number of visitors to this year’s display is far outpacing previous festivals.
Timm: “Opening weekend was last weekend and I just did the tally. It was over 5,000 cars. Normally on a Sunday night we get 500-600 cars, but this year it was over 1,200. So there is definitely a lot of buzz this year.
Changes for 2020 Festival
There are a few changes this year due to safety concerns. There is only one entrance available at 5th avenue and Smith Boulevard. There will not be any in person volunteers collecting donations for the Aurora Rotary Club. However donations can be made online at aurorafestivaloflights.com or via QR signboards you can scan along the route, which will direct you to the website.
Timm: We could really use the support because all of those funds go back out in the community locally and globally to other non-profit organizations. Over the past 13 years we have given out nearly $600,000 in grants to organizations throughout the Aurora area and internationally.
Open Every Night
The annual lights festival runs every night through December 27th, with operating hours from 5-9 pm Sunday through Thursday and 5-10 pm on Friday and Saturday.
If you are looking to avoid a longer wait time, Sunday through Thursday might be your best bet.
For Naperville News 17, I’m Justin Cornwell.
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