Each year, a crew of about 25 Parks and Recreation employees descend on Irving’s Centennial Park, 444 W. Second St., to give it a holiday face lift. In December, during the week prior to the annual Holiday Extravaganza, this special group of dedicated workers carefully wrap the trees and set up decorative lighted displays of trains, wreaths and other seasonal scenes to create a winter wonderland that delights the young and the young-at-heart.
This year’s display will be open to the public from dusk to 10 p.m. Dec. 2-25, weather permitting. The light display is free and affords a leisurely stroll through one of the jewels of Irving’s Heritage District, Centennial Park.
It takes thousands of strands of lights to cover the 200 trees that are part of the display, and depending on the size, one tree might be wrapped with up to 10 strands of lights. Each strand has between 150 and 300 lights. In addition, Centennial Park’s walls, fences and bridge are covered with lights, and walkways are lighted on each side to keep pathways visible for visitors after dark. In an effort to remain resourceful and environmentally friendly, the Parks and Recreation Department began replacing its inventory during the past four years with energy-efficient, durable LED lights.
Perhaps the most interesting fact about this holiday tradition is that it is staffed 24/7 from the start of the decorating until it closes down shortly after Christmas. Parks staff patrols the area during the day using a cart. On-duty employees wear uniforms day and night, clearly identifying them as city staff, and visitors can ask any questions they have about the decorations.
Launched in 2002, this holiday tradition brings people from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area to Irving to enjoy a stroll and the sense of community that returns year after year. So, remember to stop by this holiday season and enjoy the peace, tranquility and beauty of Irving’s Holiday Lights with friends and family. Be prepared to walk. Bike riding is not permitted in the walkways because of the large numbers of visitors, especially at night. Riders can lock their bikes in the park’s bike rack, or they can walk their bikes on the paths.
If the weather turns stormy, the show might not go on that night. Although Parks staff works hard to weatherproof the connections for the lighted strands, sometimes Mother Nature works her way into the lines with condensation. At that point, the park goes dark to reduce damage to the displays, lights and generators.
For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at (972) 721-2501.