Major changes to Branson’s Christmas Festival of Lights in 2005

The Branson Area Festival of Lights (BAFOL) Committee of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB is pleased to announce that many of the holiday lighting displays formerly located along Branson Hills Parkway will be set up at multiple locations this season to create an area-wide Festival of Lights Driving Tour.

Guests visiting during Ozark Mountain Christmas (Nov. 1, 2005 – Jan. 1, 2006) will be able to view these magnificent displays at area businesses and in public places, at no cost, according to Ross Summers, president and CEO of the Chamber.

The BAFOL Committee has negotiated a 3-year purchase agreement with Universal Concepts, owner of the approximately 200 displays, which will, in turn, make buying or leasing very affordable for Chamber members. Prices will start at around $300 for a small display.

“The Branson Area Festival of Lights started in 1990 to enrich our visitors’ holiday experiences,” according to David Arney, president and CEO of Akers & Arney Insurance Associates and BAFOL Committee chairman.

“The drive-through display at Branson Hills was a wonderful addition to the area-wide festival, but we always knew that commercial development would eventually take its place. After exploring other locations for a paid admission drive-through, the committee decided that in order to give visitors the best possible holiday lighting experience, the displays should be located at places where people already go to see lights… and that’s everywhere.” Arney said.

In March, construction began on the 131-acre Branson Hills Plaza, located just off Branson Hills Parkway on the site where 200 displays were located. The first phase of the new development is scheduled to open in spring of 2006 and will include Target, Home Depot and TJ Maxx.

In addition to making the displays available to Chamber members for lease or purchase, the BAFOL Committee is working on a new map to be printed in October that will guide visitors along the Festival of Lights Driving Tour and show them where their favorite displays can be seen.

“So far we’ve gotten a great response from area business owners eager to place displays on their property,” Summers said. “The cost savings we’re able to pass on will help some businesses afford to erect entire scenes made of multiple display units,” he said.

A few of the scenes available for sale or lease include: 12 Days of Christmas; Santa and his reindeer; sailboat races; a nativity scene; outdoor winter scenes, a gingerbread scene, and Victorian Christmas scenes.

The BAFOL Committee will again this year erect more than 280 lighted stars on Hwy. 76 and throughout town. Each year, the committee conducts fundraising events to offset the costs of maintaining these stars.

“We still need donations for these stars,” Arney said. “It’s important to maintain that unified look within our town, and these stars are like a giant Christmas and holiday welcome mat.”

For information about the Branson Area Festival of Lights, Driving Tour maps or to lease or purchase displays, call the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce at 417-334-4084.

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