November 17, 2018 9:57:09 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
Don't look now, but dinosaurs have returned to roam in Fayette, Alabama, about 43 miles northeast of Columbus. These dinos, though, are bathed in festive lights and never leave Guthrie Smith Park. They're among the newest additions to Fayette's ever-growing Christmas at the Park, a mile-long driving tour of lighted scenes, most of them animated. The spectacle draws about 10,000 cars, vans and buses each holiday season. It opens Thursday, Thanksgiving night, from 5:30-9:30 p.m. and remains open through Dec. 31.
"Last year we estimated we had about 100,000 people come through," said community volunteer Doris Brasher, noting that many come from Columbus, Starkville and surrounding counties. She and her husband John first set up Christmas displays outside their home, inspired by decorations at Callaway Gardens. Eventually, the extravaganza outgrew the Brashers' grounds and was donated to the park. It expands every year, and the Brashers oversee its setup and operation, mentoring and utilizing help from female inmates of the Fayette County Jail.
"We add new features every year," Doris Brasher said. "It's a labor of love."
The dinosaur family of four is just one of the features to delight young and old alike. There are angels, skaters, Santa and the elves, ball players, helicopters and the Twelve Days of Christmas, among dozens more.
"There are 60 animated displays, plus four wooden displays," said Brasher.
In addition to the driving tour, rides in the miniature park train are available for $1 per person every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. (Although, there are no train rides on Thanksgiving night.) Hot chocolate is also available for $1.
"Last year, we had 13 countries represented, 31 states and 33 churches," said Brasher who logs where tour visitors hail from.
Admission to the tour is by donation to the nonprofit Christmas at the Park. All proceeds are used to maintain the displays and pay for additions to the attraction.
"One thing that's important, though, is that all these church vans and buses and the nursing home buses, we don't charge them anything," Brasher noted. "They all go through for free; it's important that we do this for these people."
Guthrie Smith Park is located at 102 Second Avenue SE in Fayette. For more information about Christmas at the Park, contact Brasher at 205-270-3703.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.