1995 Oklahoma Event of the Year
This is the top award given by the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and the Oklahoma Tourism Industry Association (OTIA).
1996 Top 100 Events in North America given by the American Bus Association (ABA) The winning event is the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
1997 Frontier Country Member of the Year given by Central Oklahoma’s Marketing organization and featured in Country Woman and Southern Living.
1998 Oklahoma Media Award
This is the top award given by the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and the Oklahoma Tourism Industry Association (OTIA) for presentation to the state media.
2008 Oklahoma Governor’s Tourism Award for Best Website
This award is given by the State of Oklahoma(OTIA) for best tourism website.
2009 Oklahoma’s Frontier Country Outstanding Outdoor Activity
**Over 250,000 visitors come from all over the world to visit Chickasha’s Festival of Light every year.
How did the Festival of Light Begin?
In 1992, what started out as a small group of local citizens with a dream to spark community spirit, became Festival of Light, Inc., a nationally recognized Christmas light display dedicated to long-term initiatives that enhance and improve quality each year. The pride and enthusiasm that the Festival of Light brings to the citizens of Chickasha is evident bringing about a spirit of community pride that transcends economic or social barriers. Virtually every citizen can enjoy and feel a part of this magnificent event.
Since 1993, the Festival of Light, Inc. transforms Chickasha’s 43-acre park into a magnificent light display rivaling Branson, Las Vegas, and Marshal. The Festival of Light, Inc., is a volunteer based non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting goodwill and building community spirit that is created and managed by local citizens.
The Festival of Light, Inc. founders envisioned a community effort that 1) Must be supported by the community, 2) Promote good will and help build community spirit, and 3) Promote the view of “Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child”. For 17 years, their dream has been rewarded as a positive impact in the community.
Volunteerism is the driving force behind this community initiative, and much of the success of the Festival of Light is due to the hard working volunteers. One Chickasha volunteer says it simply, “Our festival sends out an important message: A tiny bulb by itself may not shine very brightly . . . but with a million others, the results are awe-inspiring!” [Jean Lee, Chickasha resident, Country Woman Magazine, Nov/Dec 1997, issue].
A 15-member board of directors leads the organization with officers affronting a 1-2-person staff. Our volunteers serve as park marshals, gate greeters, gift shop clerks, and display designers. Others include lighting crews, fundraisers, photographers, traffic and tour guides, graphic artists, entertainers, and more.
Local businesses financially support the Festival of Light with monetary contributions and by sponsoring displays in the park. Restaurants donate meals to hundreds of volunteers during installation between October and November annually.
How does the Festival of Light work?
All decorations are designed and hand-made in Chickasha. The design ideas come from local high school students, college students, and area businesses. The decorations are owned and maintained by local businesses, civic clubs, churches and individuals. It is their responsibility to have the design approved by the Festival committee, install the lights, and maintain the decoration while it is in the park. The lights on the big tree, other trees, bridge, spring house and the bath house are owned, maintained and installed by the Festival and its volunteers.
Nearly 1200 volunteers from all walks of life make the Festival of Light possible each year. They range in age from school students to senior adults up to 94 yrs old. The volunteers spend six two-day weekends installing the lights and four two-day weekends to remove them. During the Festival, it takes at least 20 volunteers each night to operate the park. Volunteers test lights, hang lights, greet at the entrance, greet and take donations at the exit, work in the gift shop, act as step-on guides, make displays and promote the Festival throughout the year.
More than 3.5 million lights will shine in Shannon Springs Park from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve nightly from 6:00pm -11:00pm.
- 75,000 lights on the bridge
- 36,000 lights on the spring house
- 25,000 lights on 16-story tree
- 100+ displays with thousands of lights
- four miles of lighted walkways
- 25 foot tall angel
- 250+ Lighted trees
- Gift shop and concession stand with unique gifts, homemade gooey cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate
- Carriage rides available every night ($6.00 per person)
- The tree is 172 feet high and has an 80 foot diameter at the base. It uses as much electricity as the rest of the park displays combined.
- State-of-art Computer Animated Light show programmed by technician who programs for Disney. The light show has over 150,000 lights, 320 extension cords, and 20 computers.
The Festival of Light survives solely on funds donated and raised through tour fees and donations collected, souvenirs and local sponsors. All collections are used to sustain the Festival, market the Festival and Chickasha and make park improvements. More than $280,000 in park improvements have been made since the Festival started and these improvements are enjoyed by residents throughout the year. The improvements include new trees, concrete pathways, remodeled bathhouse, bridge repairs, bathroom renovations, bathroom construction, just to name a few items.
The annual electric bill is approximately $15,000 which is a special municipal rate and is paid by the City of Chickasha. (FOL leases the park from the city from October through January in order to allow religious displays to be included in the Festival)
We expect 40,000 vehicles and over 250,000 visitors through the park each season from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.
Chickasha was founded in 1892 when the Rock Island Railroad made Chickasha a whistle-stop.
The name “Chickasha” is a Cherokee Indian word meaning rebel. Grady County was named for the famous southern orator, Henry W. Grady.
Chickasha was home to R.C. Hall and daughter, Winnie May. Wiley Post was R.C. Hall’s private pilot and named his plane after his daughter.
Chickasha has a population of 16,200. The population of Grady County is 54,900.
Grady County ranks number one in dairy production in Oklahoma with more than 25,000 milk cows representing an annual average milk production of about 330 million gallons of milk. Approximately 115,000 acres of wheat is planted annually.
Chickasha is home to the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, the only publicly funded liberal arts college in Oklahoma. USAO opened in 1908 as the Oklahoma Industrial Institute and College for Girls and has a rich tradition of excellence in education. In 1916 the name was changed to the Oklahoma College for Women after confusion about the name reminding some of a correctional facility. In 1965 the university went co-ed and its name was changed to the Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts. The University got its present name in 1975. Today, USAO has been recognized as one of the top regional liberal arts schools in the nation by US News and World Report for multiple years.
Nearly half a million car enthusiasts visit the annual swap meets held by the Antique Auto Club at the Grady County Fairgrounds. Proceeds from the swap meets made the renovation of the Rock Island Depot at the east end of Chickasha Avenue possible. The Chickasha City Hall is another building which was refurbished. The former Federal Courthouse and Post Office now houses the City of Chickasha offices.