Hot, dry weather helps Way of Lights start vacation preparations


BELLEVILLE, Illinois – This week has been a summer, but the hot, dry weather is just what workers need to get off to a good start on the Chemin des Lumières at the Our Lady of the Snow National Shrine in Belleville.

The annual Christmas light exhibition has been in full swing since 1970.

“I get this constantly. Father, we love the Way of Lights. It’s a tradition since I was a kid to come here and enjoy the lights. Now I can take my children, ”said the director of the shrine, Fr David Uribe said.

With over a million lights, the huge screen takes a long time to set up.

“We always had to start work on the Tuesday after Labor Day in order to be ready before the start of the Path of Lights, which is the Friday before Thanksgiving each year,” Uribe said.

He added that people are surprised to learn that the screen has to be completely disassembled and reinstalled every year.

“Yes, we have to. We have these little creatures called squirrels and they love plastic. If we left them in place, they would eventually overcome them throughout the year, ”Uribe said.

Illuminated holiday displays were very popular in 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions overturned many other traditions.

“We were quite surprised by the number of cars that passed. We have about 2,000 more than the year before, ”Uribe said. “And we raised more money, even with less programming. Because last year we didn’t open the visitors center.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate hope to have more programming available this year and invite everyone to visit this breathtaking exhibition.

“We want to reiterate this Christmas story. This… Christ coming into the world and being that light of the world for all generations, ”Uribe said.

The Chemin des Lumières opens for the season on Friday, November 19 and will run until New Year’s Eve. There is no admission fee. The exhibition is financed by donations from visitors.

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