What the Festival of Lights Means to Me

Written by: Kaci Osborne, Tourism Manager at the PACVB

As a child driving through the Festival of Lights I remember how magical it all seemed. I grew up in Manito, Ill. where the population is 1,700, and the Festival of Lights was the closest thing to Disney World this side of the Illinois River. My family and I would “ooh and aah” our way through the two-mile spectacular display every year. With dragons, whales, space ships, and even 20-foot tall ducks, the Winter Wonderland really had something for everyone!

blue whale

enterpriseDragon_CREDIT John Telger

Now fast forward 20 years and I am an employee of the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.  I was given the opportunity to volunteer at the Festival of Lights to collect surveys. We passed them out at the beginning of the line and I collected them at the end to gather feedback.  As I drove through the Winter Wonderland to man my post at the bottom of the hill, I was just as amazed as my 8 year old self. This time it was more in appreciation of all of the work that goes into this event! Housing over 100 displays, made up of millions of lights, created and maintained by 300 community volunteers; it truly is a spectacular event.  East Peoria should be proud; they have put together a light display that would put Clark Griswold to shame.

Check out what other people had to say about the Festival of Lights this year!

Tami W. of Bloomington, IL

“Thanks so much! Love that this is here for our kids!”

Jeanette R. of Rantoul, IL

“We drove from Rantoul! The lights are awesome! Well worth the trip!!!”

Jodi W. of East Peoria, IL

“We have been coming every year for 14 straight years and love it! Thank you for all that you do.”

Shaun M. of Peoria, IL

“We come every year for a great time! 12 years in a row!”

Michelle W. of Champaign, IL

“Thank you for a wonderful tradition. We love the lights!”

Lee G. of Quad Cities, IL

“Grandkids love the lights and want to come every year.”

Emily B. of Normal, IL

“I live in Normal IL and this is the second time we have come to the festival of lights this year. My son loves to see the lights here and can’t wait to come back!”


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