Holiday lights fill Paul Ogle Park thanks to Tourism Board, volunteers


Want to get into the holiday spirit?

Take a drive down Ferry Street in Vevay and into the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park, where more than 30,000 lights and numerous inflatable and other displays await you.

The work, which has transformed the park into a holiday wonderland, is the work of the Switzerland County Tourism Commission and a special committee of community members led by Shawnna Ramsey.

“Tourism had a committee with Shawnna Ramsey, Kathy Meredith, and some of the board members,” tourism board member Mike Bear said. “Billy and Rose Leap helped a lot. Several of the board members were down there quite a bit setting everything up.”

“It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for several years,” Shawnna Ramsey said of her desire to decorate the riverfront park for the holidays. “It took a lot of volunteers about three weeks to get everything set up, but it’s been wonderful to see all of the people enjoying it.”

She says that she really gets enjoyment out of seeing the faces of the children as they go through the park; and that it’s also rewarding to see people stop and take photos of their family next to the displays.

Shawnna Ramsey said that along with the financial help of the tourism board, much of the display comes from donations from members of the community, along with businesses and organizations.

“We had it up in time for the Christmas Parade, which was nice for everyone,” Mike Bear said. “We’ll leave it up until after the first of the year; and I think it’s something that we’ll add to every year. Everyone really seems to be enjoying it.”

Mike Bear said that many people have been offering to donate lights and displays for the park in coming years, which makes the entire display truly a community effort; and he said that a committee will be forming around September of next year to begin work and planning for the 2013 display.

The big star that hangs over Ferry Street as visitors enter the park comes compliments of Billy and Rose Leap, as it used to hang at their home. The large Christmas tree on the west side of the main drive also comes compliments of the Leap homestead; and many others – from Lewis Fritter to Mike Bear and many others – including Micah and Shawnna Ramsey, who are known around the county for having one of the biggest and best Christmas displays at their home on Main Street each year.

The numbers are only estimates, with each of the 25 trees containing at least 700 lights each (17,500); and the 14 metal displays around the park contain about 400 lights each for 5,600 more. Over 600 lights make up the pond that Shawnna Ramsey created for the cranes to stand in.

That doesn’t include the countless lights that line and cover the shelter houses; along with countless displays – which increases almost daily.

“Belterra donated one and they called me from the Ogle Haus the other day and told me that it came in,” Shawnna Ramsey said. “I picked it up last night, so I’ve got to go and get it put up today, so it continues to grow.”

Shawnna Ramsey said that hay for the displays was donated, along with monetary donations that have been used to help buy decorations.

“Fred McAlister donated the plywood that we put on the back of one of the shelters that we put wrapping paper on to make it look like a wall back there, which turned out pretty cool. This is a real community project. I’m trying to get all types of people involved in it, so it will bring the community together and it will be something we can work at. Hopefully each year it will just get bigger and have more people who get involved in it.”

And the Ramsey front yard on Main Street?

It’s bare.

“We don’t have any lights at all in our yard,” Shawnna Ramsey laughed. “We were going to put a sign up that says ‘Go to the River’. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and when we had the opportunity to do it, I jumped at it.”