Illuminights promises the same holiday fun, with one big difference this year

Organizers are asking visitors to do one specific thing before arriving

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Roanoke County is about to flip the switch on year two of Illuminights.

The most important thing you need to know this year is you must register ahead of time; you cannot just show up.

Organizers are asking folks to go online ahead of time and register for their 30-minute time slot.

While they have put a lot of thought into making this event happen during a pandemic, they’ve also put in a lot of work stringing lights.

With each hit of the hammer, Explore Park employees are not just building light displays, but making memories.

“Just trying to build a family tradition, having everybody’s favorite ornament so that they can come back and try to find,” said Eric Kohler, grounds supervisor.

Kohler and his team have been tasked with putting up a half-million lights in the park.

“We went from Labor Day straight to setting up for Christmas,” said Kohler.

It is his second season setting up Illuminights.

He took feedback from 2019 visitors to help create what you will experience this year.

“I try to sort of channel my inner child and set things up and think of that as I’m going along,” said Kohler.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much in 2020, Illuminights promises to bring the same family fun back, but this year they will do it with safety top of mind.

“One of the great parts about Illuminights is that it’s outdoors, and while we’re out here, we do ask that people wear their masks while in the park and along the trail as well as maintain social distancing,” said Alex North, Recreation Marketing Assistant.

As you walk the trail with your group, you’ll notice favorites from last year, like the giant ornament or the photo-friendly reindeer.

“Giving them a chance to come out and enjoy some time with their family as well as build memories for those to last years and years to come and hopefully we have people come back that establish their own Christmas traditions here at Illuminights each year,” said North.

While Santa will be appearing virtually from the north pole, you can always mail him a letter.

There’s also a canned food drive donation box available every night at Illuminights. The drive benefits The Agape Center Vinton-Roanoke.

If you bring two cans of food, you get a voucher for a free hot cocoa.

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