The 21st annual Christmas in Hopelands event had a good turnout despite cold temperatures and a few evenings of rain.
According to City of Aiken Recreation Program Coordinator Kiersten Warfield, more than 15,000 visitors came through the gardens that was illuminated by more than 100,000 lights. The event opened Dec. 13 and concluded on Dec. 27 – it was closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Last year, more than 19,000 attended the event, which was an extraordinarily high turnout. Warfield said that attendance this year was on the “high end of average.”
Two of those nights were rained out, and some nights weren’t as busy due to the chilly weather.
But, on Dec. 23, 4,519 people attended, which is the most the City has ever seen, Warfield said.
“It wasn’t too cold or rainy,” Warfield said. “That was a good night.”
There were a few additions and changes to this year’s program, including the two blue string light trees that were in honor of Aiken Department of Public Safety’s Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers and Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson, who both lost their lives in the line of duty. Warfield said the display was well-received and added that she had never seen the display without a group of people standing around it and gazing upon the heartfelt memorial.
Warfield said that the idea for that display was actually suggested by a resident.
Another big change was the parking situation this year. The City had to move its bus pick-up from the South Park Shopping Center, which is currently under renovation, to Citizens Park.
Warfield said the shuttle from the park went smoothly and was just as easy as it had been in years past.
Warfield thanked all the volunteers who helped make the event so successful.
“It’s always a great program and always a lot of fun,” Warfield said.
Anyone who wants to leave feedback or has ideas for the 22nd annual Christmas in Hopelands can call the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center at 642-7631 or drop by. The center is located at 1700 Whiskey Road.