Shore holiday light show evolves with the growing crowds
For the 9th straight year, the popular Christmas Light Show returns to Wall Township.
The area tradition takes place at the Epp residence with two shows per night on Saturday, December 13, Sunday, December 14, and Saturday December 20.
As always, the shows are free with donations being collected to support Challenged Youth Sports, which is an area charity that runs sports leagues and builds boundless playgrounds for children with disabilities.
Over 12,000 people turned out for last year's run, donating around $7,000 to Challenged Youth Sports.
Coordinator Dan Brateris said he never imagined this type of success when he and some friends cooked up the idea more than eight years ago.
"The level that it's gone to is never what I thought would be there, but we've had great support from everyone around us," Brateris said.
He made specific mention to the team that works with him each year, the family who generously donate their home for the festivities, and the local community.
Brateris said the consistent rise in attendance is great, but with the success comes more concerns, such as crowd control and parking issues.
"We have to manage this more and more like a major professional event," he explained. "That actually is challenging for us because we have to do things that cost money now rather than just time."
Still though, the organizers are promising a larger, bright and more elaborate show than ever. They say they are building on last year's success with more pyrotechnics and special effects with a running time of 20 minutes per show.
Brateris is encouraging all attendees to download the new driving and parking directions that are in place for this year.
The changes include off-site parking with police coordinating the roughly 10 minute walk along a controlled route. He recommends arriving 30-40 minutes prior to show time and bringing a flashlight.
"It is going to be different from past years, so we want to make sure people understand there's going to be a little bit of a difference if they've come previously," he said.
Another major goal for this year's shows is to try and raise even more money for charity. Brateris said the fundraising numbers have been strong, but he believes they can do even better.
"It's a free event, so we want you to come and bring your friends and family and enjoy, and donate what you feel comfortable with. That's what it's all about."