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November 26, 2022

‘Tis the season: Fairgrounds offers Holiday Lights drive-thru event

WATSONVILLE—Two local organizations are hoping to shine a brilliant holiday light during troubling times.

The Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Foundation and the Agricultural History Project are in the midst of crafting the first-ever Holiday Lights Drive-Thru event as an alternative celebration for the holiday season during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The half-mile drive-thru will feature 84 large lighted holiday icons such as reindeer, snowmen and wrapped gifts, in addition to twinkling Christmas trees, Santa Claus and glowing lighted tunnels. A row of light-wrapped historic tractors, including a rare 1922 Federal water truck, will also punctuate the displays.

“Stay in your warm car and drive through this holiday experience,” said Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Foundation spokesman Ron Haedicke. “Tune your radio to the Holiday Lights station and enjoy the experience. After your magical journey through the lights stop at the holiday food stands and pick up your favorites for the drive home.”

The event, which begins the day after Thanksgiving, will serve as a fundraiser for the AHP and the Fairgrounds Foundation, according to Jeannie Kegebein, CEO of the Fairgrounds Foundation.

“There has been such a great outpouring of help from our community to put this event on from volunteers and sponsors,” Kegebein said.

Kegebein said there are still openings for a total of 16 sponsors to run a booth at the event.

There will also be “holiday food” for purchase at the end of the colorful tour.

“It’s incredible watching this all come together,” Haedicke said. “We’re still open to new ‘Wrap Stars,’ people who wish to create one of the Christmas light-wrapped structures. What I’m seeing every day are adults with kid’s eyes getting wider every day.”

The event will run 14 evenings (weather permitting) Friday, Saturday and Sunday for five weeks, Nov. 27 to Dec. 27 (except Christmas Day). Vehicles can cruise through from 5:30-9:30pm.

For information, visit fairgrounds-foundation.org.

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.

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