Mon Power Volunteers Lending Hand to Celebration of Lights for Sixth Year
While countless public events have been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus health emergency, the Celebration of Lights at Morris Park is still scheduled to open on Thanksgiving weekend, but not without a few changes. Due to public safety concerns around COVID-19, vendors selling food, drinks and Christmas gifts won’t be part of the festivities, but what hasn’t changed is the role that Mon Power volunteers play in helping to bring the event to life.
Rain or shine, Mon Power volunteers have been donating their time to the Celebration of Lights - organized by the South Fairmont Rotary Club and benefiting the United Way of Marion & Taylor counties - since 2015. This month, 30 employees showed up to assemble approximately 500 lighted holiday displays along a 1.3-mile loop around the park. Wearing safety gear such as glasses, work gloves, flagging vests and face masks, the group moved the lighted displays out of storage and distributed them, setting metal rods in the ground and attaching the displays with zip ties. Mon Power line workers from the nearby White Hall service center also brought a bucket truck to the site in order to hang a handful of elevated displays.
“Everybody enjoys it,” said Tim Gerstnecker, manager of Substation Services, who has coordinated Mon Power’s volunteer efforts for the Celebration of Lights since 2016. “It’s an opportunity for us to contribute to an important community event, and it’s a great teambuilding exercise for employees who might not otherwise interact with each other, especially this year.”
Now in its 13th year, Celebration of Lights is one of the largest fundraising events for the United Way of Marion & Taylor counties, which provides funding to nonprofit organizations doing community work in the areas of health, education and financial stability. Mon Power is a corporate sponsor of the organization, and Michael Haines, director of operations services, serves on its board of directors.
With other United Way fundraising events cancelled because of COVID-19, the 2020 Celebration of Lights is critically important to the organization’s budget, says Jim Chadwell of the South Fairmont Rotary Club, who oversees the event. In 2019, 5,900 vehicles drove through the Celebration of Lights, and it raised $63,000 for the United Way. With expanded hours for people to drive or walk through the park and some new displays, Chadwell is hoping to beat that number this year.
Chadwell says that Mon Power has been instrumental to the success of the Celebration of Lights, which started out with roughly 25 displays in its first year and has grown exponentially since.
“Every year their volunteer base gets bigger,” he says. “I don’t know that we could do this event without Mon Power.”
For more information on the Celebration of Lights, visit www.celebrationoflightswv.com.
CONTACT: Will Boye, (301) 790-6420