Thursday night, the city becomes a magical place to be as the Garden of Lights at Honor Heights Park and the Airblown World Christmas Kingdom at The Castle open their gates.

It has become a tradition in Muskogee that on Thanksgiving evening, Muskogee’s most popular holiday attractions open. Both are free.

Each year, Honor Heights Park is transformed by thousands of glittering colored lights that glow in the evening as countless visitors drive through the Garden of Lights.

Park Superintendent Rick Ewing said his staff especially looks forward to coming up with the colorful static and animated displays to thrill visitors.

“The exciting part is being creative,” he said. “We will have dozens of displays.”

Park Foreman Richard Randell said the average tree takes between 1,800 and 2,400 bulbs.

“We have one tree that takes 5,400 bulbs,” he said. “For one person to install 3,000 lights takes a good eight-hour day. With two or three people working on it, you can bring that down to four hours.”

Randell said he is glad to be part of a tradition bringing so many tourists to Muskogee.

“Muskogee is known for the song ‘Okie From Muskogee’ and the Azalea Festival and Garden of Lights at Honor Heights Park,” he said. “We’re all proud of it. It’s just an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction when you see 110 to 120 trees light up all at once together.”

Jeff Hiller, owner at The Castle, said the Garden of Lights is about beauty, and the Christmas Kingdom is about fun.

“We’ll have at least 1,200 inflatables in sizes from 4 feet to 20 feet tall,” he said. “There will be nativity scenes, Santa Clauses, cartoon characters, Winnie the Pooh, the Grinch, angels and much more. It takes about 20 to 25 minutes to see the whole thing.”

The main drive is free to the public, although The Castle does ask for donations to support the huge display.

There are special options available for nominal fees.

“We have a separate ride with a carriage that has its own separate route,” Hiller said. “And we have a hayride that is also a different route. It’s holiday fun.”

Reach Keith Purtell at 918-684-2925 or Click Here to Send Email

Finding the displays

• Enter the Garden of Lights from dusk to 10 p.m. from Thursday to Jan. 1 by turning north on Honor Heights Drive off West Okmulgee Avenue. Continue past the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.

• Enter the Airblown World Christmas Kingdom from dusk to 10 p.m. Thursday to Dec. 31 at 3400 Fern Mountain Road by turning west off U.S. 69 at the Pilot convenience store.

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