Cuero turns on Christmas lights (Video)

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Nov. 19, 2012 at 5:19 a.m.
Updated Nov. 20, 2012 at 5:20 a.m.

CUERO - The Christmas lights sparkled in the park. Muriel Cotman, 12, craned her head around to see the electrical displays of Santa Claus, snowflakes, elves, a steamboat, and Sassy the sea serpent with a jaunty red Santa hat perched on her head.

"It's awesome," she said, a wide smile on her face.

Her mother, Tessa Cotman, slowly motored their car through the park, the first to see Christmas in the Park, which opened Monday evening.

"It's amazing," she said, smiling at her daughter's exclamations.

At the exit, Cotman tossed money into the red donation bucket held by one of the volunteers.

Buzz Edge handed mother and daughter a peppermint and smiled. This is what he works and waits for all year.

Christmas in the Park started 13 years ago, put together by the Cuero Development Corporation at Cuero's Municipal Park. It started small, with some decorations on a few of the trees around the gazebo.

"We just fell in love with it. Every year, there were just more and more people. It grew way beyond our expectations," volunteer Mary Polansky said.

The group who puts on the light show every year works from the beginning of October to get the lights and decorations installed in the park. This year, they have 170 displays and replaced more than 55,000 bulbs to get them up and running.

Edge and his wife, Jo Ann Edge, and Polansky all agreed they never get tired of the glittering spectacle. The first time the lights turn on for the season is a moment they look forward to with the giddiness of kids approaching the tree Christmas morning.

"When we're putting it together, it's just a bunch of bulbs and steel. It doesn't come together until it gets dark," Edge said. "For me, every year I'm awed by it."

They take donations at the park exit, but the show is for anyone, whether they have money to donate or not, Edge said.

"We just want people to see it," he said.

People come from all over the place to see the lights. Once, a couple landed their plane at the airport just across the road from the park. They walked over, strolled through the park and then boarded their plane to fly back to Corpus Christi. More than 23,000 vehicles will rumble through the park before the lights turn off in January. It's estimated that more than 75,000 people come to see the lights each year.

"I think our world today needs some joy and some happiness. We see nothing but doom and gloom so often, but people see this and they're so happy. It brings pleasure," Jo Ann Edge said.

It's become a part of people's traditions, Jo Ann Edge said. Over the years, they have seen four marriage proposals, one wedding and countless happy couples and families on their annual trek to see the lights.

On Monday evening, Guillermo Hernandez hoisted his daughter, Natalie, 3, as she pointed one chubby little finger at the lights erected in the shape of a paddle boat just across the water.

"Boat!" she cried in Spanish, clapping her hands together.

"I'd heard about it, and we had to come and see it," he said, smiling as his daughter bounced in his arms, squealing with delight. "It's amazing."



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