Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Positively Pittsburgh Live! Pittsburgh Christmas Lights 12-10-12

Positively Pittsburgh Live!
Pittsburgh Christmas Lights

Caren Knoyer, Marketing Director, Oglebay Resort & Conference Center
Stephanie Tomasic, Executive Director, Overly's Country Christmas


Oglebay Resort - Wheeling, West Virginia 

November 9, 2012 - January 6, 2013 
Sunday - Thursday, 5:30-10:00 p.m. 
Friday - Saturday, 5:30-11:00 p.m. 
Admission: a onetime per car donation is requested; $20 donation includes Oglebay Lights DVD. Trolley tours are offered for $10 per seat.

Special Festival of Lights overnight packages are available at Wilson Lodge. 

Call 800-624-6988 or book online!

Carousel Display
One of America’s largest holiday light shows, the Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay in Wheeling, West Virginia, will begin November 9, 2012 and continue through January 6, 2013.  This holiday tradition began in 1985 with just five light displays and landscape lighting covering about 125 acres over a three-mile drive throughout the resort. Since then, the show has grown into one of the nation's largest light shows, covering more than three hundred acres over a six-mile drive throughout the resort. Seventy eight larger-than-life light displays are now part of this glowing show including the new amusement park themed Strong Man display added next to the Ferris Wheel and Carousel. Also new this year is the Leaping Frog display and an animated Volcano has also been added to the popular Dinosaur Dell display this year.

Caren Knoyer
Four years ago, the Winter Festival of Lights entered a new “green” era with the commitment to use energy-efficient LED lights in all new displays and to begin converting all existing displays to LED. “We are proud to announce that all the displays at the Festival of Lights are now LED!”  said Caren Knoyer, Marketing Director for Oglebay. “We expected the conversion to take five years so we are actually ahead of schedule.” 

 Rocking Horse Display
Knoyer said that LED lights use 85% less energy than traditional bulbs and last five times longer. “We want to ensure that the Winter Festival of Lights will be glowing for many more years!” Knoyer added. “For example, the animated Rocking Horse Display was first added to the Festival of Lights in 1992, using 85 amps of electricity with traditional light bulbs. Now that the display has been updated with vibrant LED lights and it uses just 12 amps of electricity.”

The Gardens of Light is located in the Oglebay hilltop and gardens area, and features 150 hanging baskets of light plus thousands of lighted flowers, trees and shrubs, combined with distinctive holiday music. Knoyer said that the best way to enjoy the Gardens of Light is to take a stroll along the brick path that leads from Carriage House Glass to the Mansion Museum.
“And after numerous requests, a special CD with the Gardens of Lights music is available at our gift shops this year,” said Knoyer.

Carriage House Glass, the first stop on the Gardens of Light tour, features a large selection of decorative glass and other collectibles. Carriage House Glass is also home to the sparkling Oglebay Institute Glass Museum featuring an extensive collection of West Virginia glass and glassblowing demonstrations. The Gardens of Light continues next door to the Visitors’ Center and the new Farmhouse Sweets and Treats Shoppe. “This new shop features a very large selection of chocolates, plus other candy and regionally produced food products,” said Knoyer.  “Custom gift baskets are also available at Farmhouse Sweets and Treats.”  

Mansion Museum
Just outside the Visitors’ Center lies the magical Christmas Tree Garden.  Introduced in 2003, the Christmas Tree Garden consists of 30 live trees decorated with various colored lights.  Situated in the center of the Christmas Tree Garden is the Nativity Display. The life-size Nativity was designed and created by a local artist, and has been a much-loved display at the Winter Festival of Lights since 1985. The red brick walking path leads from the Christmas Tree Garden to the Greenhouse, Palm Room and Garden Center Gift Shop, where visitors can find live holiday flowers, garden gifts and silk floral arrangements. 
The final stop on the Gardens of Light tour is the Mansion Museum.

The popular Light and Music Extravaganza returns to the Good Zoo again this year. “The show is better than ever this year with new music, new choreography and more lights,” added Knoyer.  The Light and Music Extravaganza takes place nightly on the zoo patio with more than 35,500 LED lights choreographed to exciting holiday music. The zoo at Oglebay will also have their annual holiday model train display at the state’s largest O-Gauge Model Train Exhibit and holiday laser shows at the zoo’s Benedum Theater. Admission to the zoo is $8.00 for adults and $5.50 for children ages 3-12, and this admission includes the Light and Music Extravaganza on the zoo’s patio. 

The 271-room Wilson Lodge at Oglebay offers special overnight packages during the Winter Festival of Lights. Many changes have taken place at the lodge over the years but it is still the centerpiece of Oglebay.  It is festively decorated, inside and out, and bustles with activity including children’s events, delicious holiday dining, cordial gatherings and live musical entertainment. 

The Poinsettia Wreath and Candles
 is the festival’s tallest display.
There is plenty to do and see at Oglebay while waiting for the lights to come on.  The Ihlenfeld Dining Room at Wilson Lodge offers a popular holiday buffet nightly and the family-friendly Glass Works Grill at the lodge is open daily for lunch and dinner. The Winter Festival of Lights is also a special time at all of the Oglebay specialty shops. In addition to the Carriage House Glass, Farmhouse Sweets & Treats, Palm Room and Garden Center shops in the Gardens of Light area, the Resort Shop and West Spa Boutique at Wilson Lodge, Nature Express at the Good Zoo, and the Christmas Shop at the Speidel Golf Club are all fully stocked for the holiday season.  The Christmas Shop is open only during the Festival of Lights and offers a large selection of one-of-a-kind decorations, ornaments and holiday collectibles.  Gift cards are available at all shops, at the Visitors Center and online at Oglebay’s website.

Snowflake Tunnel 
This year, Oglebay is looking for ideas for next year’s Winter Festival of Lights.  “If you have a great idea, enter our Festival of Lights New Idea Contest and your idea could come to life at the 2013-14 Winter Festival of Lights,” said Knoyer.  Entries should be on poster board with name, age, address, phone number and email printed on the back and delivered to the Good Zoo office by January 6, 2013. Complete contest rules are available on the Oglebay website at www.oglebay-resort.com/fol.htm.

The Winter Festival of Lights was listed as one of the 10 Best Christmas Light Displays in the US according to AOL Travel and has been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Most Extreme Christmas Celebrations.” The show is also listed on the American Bus Association's Top International Events, was named as a top 100 event by Eventcrazy.com and was recently listed as one of the top 200 events in the country by Discover America. In 2009 the Festival of Lights was named one of the top 10 best holiday light and tree shows by HotelsCombined.com, a leading hotel search engine.

For more information about Oglebay and the Winter Festival of Lights, call 800-624-6988 or 304-243-4000 or visit www.oglebay-resort.com

Westmoreland County Fairgrounds, Greensburg, PA
November 16, 2012 - January 1, 2013
Sunday - Thursday, 5:30-10:00 p.m.
Friday - Saturday, 5:30-11:00 p.m.
Christmas Eve Hours, 5:30-9:00 p.m.
Weekday Admission: $10 per car or family van
Weekend Admission: $12 per car or family van
$15 per limousine, extended passenger van or minibus
Gates open nightly at 5:30 p.m., weather permitting
Get Social With Us On:  Facebook, Twitter (@overlys), Pinterest, Foursquare

Train Ride
Overly’s Country Christmas started at the home of Harry Overly in Armbrust, PA in 1956 for his children.  Over the years, it grew in popularity and attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors, sometimes causing traffic problems for the neighbors of his small hometown.  In 1994, the display was moved to the Westmoreland Fairgrounds. Also, in the same year, Harry incorporated into a nonprofit charitable organization to assure the lights and his charitable work would continue long after he was gone.

Sadly, in 1998, Harry died after a two year struggle with leukemia. Dedicated volunteers willing to give of their time each year to continue this Westmoreland County holiday tradition and work hard to assure that Christmas Village and the charitable work continues long after all of us are gone.

Henny Hemlock
Net proceeds from the display and Christmas Village plus other fund raising activities done throughout the year go to the "Lights for Little Ones" endowment fund which was established in July 2001. The fund provides for Overly’s year long work with troubled youth and community outreach initiatives such as the Family Moments Holiday Packages for area families at-risk in Westmoreland, Fayette and Allegheny Counties.       

Santa at Overlys
During the Season, Overly’s is a permanent collection site for new, unwrapped toys, nonperishable food items, cat/dog food and kitty litter and personal care items. Through the Share the Magic collections, donations are made to the Mt. Pleasant Salvation Army Angel Tree, the Good Samaritan Center of Mt. Pleasant, In Care of Cats & Others and the veterans at the John Heinz Veterans Hospital in Aspinwall.

Lights Galore at Overlys
Throughout the year, 600+ volunteers willingly give of their time to plan, set up, operate and finally, to tear down and store the display. Nightly, it takes 15 to 45 volunteers to run the display and operate Christmas Village including Santa and Mrs. Claus, the bonfire, outdoor eateries, gift shop and numerous behind the scenes activities.
Overly’s Country Christmas sits on 15 acres at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds in Greensburg, PA with five acres accessible for visitors to come to Christmas Village where they can:

  1. Visit Hartman Station, a g-guage model train display and see a collection of railroad memorabilia
  2. Shop in C. Edgar & Sons General store
  3. Enjoy a char-grilled hamburger or hotdog or a cup of hot chocolate or hot apple cider at our outdoor barbeque, the Country Kitchen.
  4.  Have a snack of kettle korn, a funnel cake or cheesy beef fries at one of the other outdoor eateries.
  5. Visit the life size nativity with live animals
  6. See the lights on a horse drawn wagon or sleigh
  7. Have your photo taken with Santa through December 23
  8. Sing carols ‘round our bonfire
  9. Talk with Henny Hemlock, our quippy Talking Christmas Tree
 And above all, enjoy the sight, smells, tastes and sound of an old-fashioned Christmas with your children and family. For more information, visit www.overlys.com 

A few other places to view lights this holiday season:

Kennywood Amusement Park, West Mifflin
November 23–25, November 30 - December 2, and December 7-9, 14–16, 21-23, and 26–27, 2012 (Friday, Saturday & Sundays, plus December 26 and 27)
Friday - Sunday, 5:00-9:00 p.m.
Admission: $14.99 per person; children 2 and under are free.

Clinton, PA
November 17, 2012 - January 6, 2013
Open daily from 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (including holidays)
Admission: $10 per car donation goes to support area charities

***************WIN FREE PASSES TO OVERLY'S!!!!***********

Share your Christmas Decoration pictures and have a chance to get one of ten passes for a carload to Overly Country Christmas at Westmoreland Fairgrounds. Send your pictures of your home or office decorations to: info@pplmag.com

Jpeg's only please. Also need: full name, address, email, and phone number

The best ten pictures will be chosen to receive the Carload Passes for Overly but all pictures will be posted in a video with Christmas music with your name so we all know how wonderful your lights are. The video will be posted between Christmas and New Year's on the front page of: http://pplmag.com

Last date to send in your pictures so that you can get and use your passes: December 20, 2012 at Midnight. Overly's runs through January 5.

This was reported as a reproduction of PositvelyPittsburghLive news done by Joanne Quinn-Smith. (c) Joanne Quinn-Smith and PositivelyPittsburghLive(TM) 2012 All rights reserved.

Tara Darazio is a Positively Pittsburgh Live reporter, an independent copywriter, blogger, article writer, and social media strategist. If you are in need of writing assistance, or need help with your social media efforts connect with Tara on LinkedIn here.

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