Holiday displays see boost in attendance throughout Butler County: How to go

The Journey Borealis holiday drive-through light display at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton has seen "a pretty significant uptick" in attendance this year, says Gabi Roach, art and programming manager. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
The Journey Borealis holiday drive-through light display at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton has seen "a pretty significant uptick" in attendance this year, says Gabi Roach, art and programming manager. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

BUTLER COUNTY — Two Butler County drive-through holiday light displays are reporting increased attendance as residents look for ways to safely celebrate the holidays during the coronavirus pandemic.

Journey Borealis at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton and Light Up Middletown in Smith Park saw higher attendance during their first week compared to the same time last year, organizers said. They credited the increase on improved displays and the need for families to safely enjoy the holidays.

“This is a very strange year, obviously,” said Gabi Roach, art and programing manager at Pyramid Hill. “People have a desire to do holiday things.”

Explore8 recent restaurant openings and other moves in Butler and Warren counties

She said visitors to the two-mile, drive-thru display will see several art installations created by regional artists and an expansive display of 2,000,000 lights with a multimedia presentation that will be accompanied by a musical soundtrack from the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and Cincinnati Boy Choir.

She said there was “a pretty significant uptick” in attendance since the show opened Nov. 20.

One of the best-attended nights was last Tuesday when Hamilton residents, with proof of residency, were admitted into the park for free for the first time in a series of such Tuesday specials. The line stretched out of the park while volunteers checked for Hamilton driver’s licenses and utility bills at the gate.

She expects tonight’s attendance to also be high because it’s Free Tuesday and the first day of December.

“We want to warn visitors to be patient,” Roach said. “Just an incredible outpouring of support from visitors near and far.”

Roach said organizers are considering ways to reduce the wait in line, especially on free Tuesday nights that continue through Dec. 29.

In Middletown, Barney Strassburger, manager of Light Up Middletown, described attendance and donations as “fabulous” the first weekend. He said donations on Thanksgiving, opening night for LUM, were double from 2019.

Because of COVID-19, volunteers are not handling out fliers or fast-food coupons at the gate. Strassburger said that’s reducing the wait at the gate and allowing more cars into the park.

HOW TO GO:

WHAT: Journey Borealis

WHEN: 6-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Jan. 3

WHERE: Pyramid Hill, 1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton.

HOW MUCH: $20 per carload Monday-Thursday; $25 per carload Friday-Sunday; and $15 per carload for Pyramid Hill members.

WHAT: Light Up Middletown

WHEN: 6-10 p.m. through New Year’s Eve

WHERE: Smith Park, 500 Tytus Ave., Middletown

HOW MUCH: Admission by donation

In Other News