The 18th year of Light Up Middletown proved to be the best, according to event founder Flo Randall.
She said 78,863 people — the most since the drive-through holiday lights display opened in 1999 — drove through Smith Park during the 39-day event.
That broke the attendance record of 74,239 that was set last year, Randall said.
In its 18 years, LUM has attracted more than 1 million visitors, generated thousands of dollars for the local economy and used some proceeds to make improvements to the city park, she said.
The visitors represented 10 counties and numerous states, she said. The busiest day was Dec. 3, when about 5,000 visitors drove through, according to Randall.
While the event is free, donations are accepted. Organizers said they collected about $78,000, or 13 percent higher than last year.
Two new displays — one with characters from “The Wizard of Oz” and another of dancing bears — were added this year with proceeds from previous years. Randall also said LUM planted 19 trees that were purchased with proceeds from last year’s event.
The light displays were erected and stored by a group of community volunteers called the “Grandpa Gang” and they were assisted by 50 AK Steel workers who volunteers their time. They were joined by more than 100 other volunteers who greeted visitors, counted cars and took Santa pictures.
Light Up Middletown will return this year from Nov. 23 through Dec. 31.