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Monday Sep 01

Noccalula Falls Christmas Lights All New

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009 13:19

Christmas at the Falls opens
early for city employees. The
annual falls display opens Nov.
26th at 6 pm.
Photo by Carol B McCoy

(Gadsden, AL - November 25, 2009) Three months... that's how long city crews have been working on an all new Christmas lights show at Noccalula Falls. Last night, Gadsden city workers and the press were treated to a preview of the show that will officially open Tnursday night at 6 p.m.

Gadsden Parks and Recreation Director Kerry Payne says city workers have just accomplished a major improvement in the falls itself that will be an added attraction throughout the year. New lights mounted inside the gorge will light up the falls different colors during each of the major holidays. He says he and several others were adjusting the direction of the lights Monday night to hit the falls. This light show is just one of the changes visitors will see this year.

Hundreds of thousands of lights have been changed over to LCD technology. "We really wanted to change over to LCD for a lot of reasons," Payne says. "We get more life out of the light, they take less energy, and we can put more of them on a circuit than we can a regular light." Three very good reasons, but, for the visitor, the last one is clearly evident.

More lighting displays and more lights are visibly noticable when one enters the park. Trees are even lit in the parking lot for the first time.

Parks Director Kerry Payne
says several changes have
been made this year to make
the event more family friendly.
Photo by Carol B McCoy

Noccalula Falls Park Director Janet Tarrance says her crews have been working all year long to check and change out lights, and to get the forms for the displays ready. "They've been putting up lights since September here in the park... we've been working real hard to make some major changes this year," she says.

The changes have all been made to improve the experience for the families. The cookie tent has been moved into a house, and another nearby house has been changed into an area where visitors can sit down, eat their cookies and drink hot chocolate in an area protected from the elements.

The nativity scene has been moved closer to the falls, and bleachers have been moved in for visitors to enjoy the musical light show at the nativity scene. Payne says the 15-minute show will be a great family experience, as well as the light show at the covered bridge.

"The city has tried to add family-friendly experiences to the annual attraction," Payne explains. Last year, the cookie tent was a big attraction. Payne says they've also added an inflatables jumping area and even snow machines that blow snow. He also noted that children can go into the old log post office building and write a letter to Santa and mail it from the post office.

A live entertainment stage has been moved into the parking lot at the entrance of the park. Payne says live entertainment has been scheduled for every weekend of the holiday season except for Thanksgiving weekend.

He also announed a vending area in the park where the area Kettle Corn vendor will be set up, providing kettle corn, hot chocolate and meat skins for sale.

This year several ticket packages have been announced for visitors. Gadsden Parks and Recreation has teamed with the Mary G Hardin Center for Cultural Arts to provide a discount ticket package for the held-over "Ink and Blood" exhibition and Christmas at the Falls. "Tickets for each even are usually $6 each, but with this package, you can see both for $10." Those tickets can be purchased at the Hardin Center ticket office.

"But, we've also teamed up with Fairfield Inn to do a great package for out of town guests," says Payne. "Out of town visitors can get a room for one night, two adult tickets and two children's tickets for $79. That's a great deal," he exclaims.

And, for the first time ever, the Christmas at the Falls event will sell t-shirts and commemorative Christmas ornaments for sale in the Noccalula Falls gift shop.

The City of Gadsden's parks crews have been working hard this year to make this Christmas at the Falls a memorable one, and from the looks of faces last night, they've knocked this one "out of the park."

(Photos provided by Carol B McCoy - Click here for slideshow)