Ogle Park comes alive this holiday season with thousands of lights

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

With Christmas now three weeks away, the town of Vevay and all of Switzerland County will get the holiday season in full swing beginning this Saturday, December 7th, when the annual Christmas Parade is held, and then the night will be capped off in the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park.

The parade begins at 4 p.m., and will finish in the park, where thousands of lights and hundreds of displays will come to life for everyone’s enjoyment – young and old.

The huge display in the Ogle Park is a labor of love for Shawnna Ramsey of Vevay. Again this year she has taken the lead in creating the Christmas village, which will officially be lit after the parade at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Shawnna Ramsey began working on the decorations at the park at the end of October, and everything has moved ahead since then. Along with a small band of fellow volunteers, Shawnna Ramsey is still spending most of her days – and nights – this week getting everything ready for Saturday.

And what a display it is.

“We’ve got 110 decorations down there,” Shawnna Ramsey said. “We’ve got 31 different trees, counting the artificial trees that I’ve put up. We’ve got 21 of the shrubs that will be decorated.”

Along with the trees, there are dozens and dozens of inflatable Christmas decorations all around the park; and Shawnna Ramsey said that she is also working to have Christmas music piped through the park this year, adding to everyone’s enjoyment of the season.

“I’m going to try and set up a little light show, too,” she said. “I can’t make any promises, because this would be my first year to do that, but we’re going to try.”

The main shelter house on the right as everyone enters the park has been turned into Santa’s House, and St. Nicholas will be there talking with all boys and girls on Saturday following his appearance in the parade. There will also be hot chocolate and cookies available for everyone.

Overall there are tens of thousands of lights in the overall display.

Shawnna Ramsey said that the main Community Christmas tree, which will be lit as the centerpiece of Saturday’s ceremonies, holds more than 1,000 lights itself. The tree was donated by Billy Leap, who cut it down off of his property for the community’s enjoyment.

The tree lighting should take place at dark, around 5:30 p.m.

For Shawnna Ramsey, all of the hard work and late nights really bring out the spirit of Christmas, a holiday that she loves.

“I am a big lover of Christmas,” Shawnna Ramsey said. “It’s even better now that I’ve got some grandbabies. They’ll be up for Christmas, so they’ll get to enjoy it, too.”

Shawnna Ramsey also deflects much of the praise from herself to others who have also come down – some a lot, others for a couple of hours – who have all worked to get things ready.

Larry Tolbert and Nelson Turner have been regulars at the park, working to make sure there is sufficient electricity available to power all of the displays and lights; and Billy Leap and Lewis Fritter have also been helping with the electricity.

Others volunteering include: Tom and Claudia Dawson, Evonna Robinson, Travis Chatham, Rose Leap, Faye Lewis, Laurice See, Lisa Clerkin, Stephanie Stewart, and Cody McNeely.

“That was the help that I had,” Shawnna Ramsey said. “It was a pretty small crew this year.”

Husband Micah Ramsey has also been helping, with Shawnna noting that “family really doesn’t have a choice”. The couple, whose home on Main Street is well known for its holiday decorations, also have donated some of their display pieces to the community display.

“Micah actually, he made the remark a couple of days ago about taking the rest of our stuff down there, and I was like, ‘No, because we need some up here for the kids when they come in’. But he wanted to take them all down there,” Shawnna Ramsey said.

Others have donated items to be included in the display, including the anonymous donation of a white Christmas Tree which sits in Santa’s House.

“It’s all very much appreciated,” Shawnna Ramsey said. “There’s a lot of ground to cover down there.”

Although it’s a great deal of work preparing for the display and getting everything just right, there is a great deal of satisfaction and joy for Shawnna Ramsey and others once everything comes to life.

“It makes you feel really good,” Shawnna Ramsey said. “There are little kids coming through right now while we’re working, and I get to see them. I get to see their reactions, too, when they go up, and some of them will actually go up and talk to some of the inflatables where Santa is at. It’s really neat.”

Funding for the display has been provided by Switzerland County Tourism; and some citizens have also donated Christmas displays.