If you go
What: Celebrate the SeasonWhere: Old Santee Canal Park. Enter through Santee Cooper’s Main Entrance, 1 Riverwood Drive, Moncks Corner. When: Through Dec. 30, 6-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 5-9:30 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Closed Dec. 24 and 25. Cost: $5 (cash only) per vehicle. Advanced tickets are available at the Old Santee Canal Park. Contact:celebratethe season.org or santeecooper.com
Last December, Jaylin Cox, now 5, loved driving through Old Santee Canal Park to see the light displays.
“We went three times,” said his mother, Jacki White of Moncks Corner. “He still talks about it. We are looking forward to going back this year.”
They won’t have to wait long. State-owned electric and water utility Santee Cooper is gearing up once again to Celebrate the Season, which not only offers area residents an opportunity to get into the holiday spirit, but is also a fund-raiser for Berkeley County charities.
The 1.5-mile drive-through holiday light show opens for its second year today and runs through the end of the year.
“People can enjoy a nice leisurely drive through after the stress of Black Friday shopping,” said Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore. “And this year, they get even more for their $5 admission.”
Santee Cooper employees have been preparing their gift to Berkeley County residents since early October, when they began wrapping trees in lights.
The show will follow the same path as last year’s show, Gore said. The route begins at Santee Cooper headquarters and winds through the adjacent Old Santee Canal Park.
One trip through takes about 25 minutes, but attendees can make the circuit as many times as they wish on the same night.
“Last year, as the month progressed and we got busier, we realized we needed to allow for better flow through the gatehouse,” Gore said. “We had a pretty good way for people to line up to get through, but this year we added a special lane for returning cars to make traffic smoother and give people a more enjoyable experience as they drive through.”
New animated displays have been added. An Enchanted Fairy Land joins Toyland, Farm Land and Jurassic Park themed lights this year. In addition, some of the other displays have been repositioned, Gore said.
The displays are lit by LED bulbs, which are 90 percent more energy efficient than traditional lights, and the festival is powered by renewable Santee Cooper Green Power, made in South Carolina from local resources.
In addition to the driving tour, the weekends will feature holiday fairs with musical entertainment, food, marshmallow roasts, arts and crafts, displays of 8-foot-tall wooden holiday cards made by Berkeley County school groups, and visits with Santa. The Town and Village Garden Club is once again decorating the historic Stony House in a style authentic to its time.
New this year is a carousel that will be open for riders on weekends.
Once again, gate proceeds will be donated to charities that serve Berkeley County. The cost of the show is offset by sponsorships from local businesses and civic groups.
Food sales during the fairs will benefit local charities.
Last year more than 8,000 cars entered the gate during the inaugural Celebrate the Season, raising $36,500 for Berkeley County charities.