Mark Spadoni, President of Savannah Harbor Foundation and General Manager of The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, along with many other local tourism leaders, has been developing plans to make Savannah a more compelling holiday destination for over 10 years. “An opportunity presented itself for The Savannah Harbor Foundation,” Spadoni said, “to take the lead with this initiative to both create lasting family memories as well as help families and children in need during the holiday season. And we’re glad that this vision is shared by other community leaders like Savannah Morning News, who has come on as a presenting sponsor, and appreciate their and other organization’s support to make this event become a reality.”
For nearly six weeks, both locals and visitors will have the opportunity to experience the wonders of the holiday season on Hutchinson Island. These large-scale light displays will be staged around the near 2-mile track where cars, trolleys and horse-drawn carriages can drive through at a leisurely pace and marvel at all the intricacies of these lighted masterpieces, like animated pirate ships, holiday scenes, dinosaurs and a drive-through tunnel of lights. Visitors can park at the Pit and Paddock at the end of the drive-through and partake in a variety of festive family-friendly activities, snack on tasty treats, warm up by the bonfire with hot chocolate and a s’more and enjoy all the sights and sounds of the holidays. Special weekend programming is scheduled throughout the season to enhance this experience and includes an opening ceremony with the arrival of Santa who will illuminate the lights, live scenes from A Christmas Carol and the second annual Alive in Savannah on New Year’s weekend.
“The Savannah Morning News and savannahnow.com are proud to join with the Savannah Harbor Foundation to bring this exciting family oriented event to the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry,” said Publisher Michael Traynor. “The Savannah Harbor Festival of Lights is destined to become the area’s premier holiday event, attracting thousands of visitors to spectacular light displays and family activities.
This event is supported by the Savannah Harbor Foundation, a 501(3)c non-profit charitable organization founded in 2001 after 9/11. The heart of this organization lies in the dedication and support of local children’s charities and the presentation of family-friendly events. “Proceeds from the Festival of Lights will go directly back into the hands of the charities we have partnered with for this particular event,” Spadoni said, including AWOL, Bethesda Academy, The Interfaith Hospitality Network, Greenbriar Children’s Center, Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society and Performance Initiative. “These six charities will be given tickets to sell for their own fundraising,” Spadoni continued, “and each one will be specifically featured on a designated Wednesday of the festival, where a portion of gate proceeds will go into the pockets of that respective charity.” In addition, a fundraising booth will be set up in the Pit and Paddock benefiting The Empty Stocking Fund, and a canned food drive will be held for Lighthouse Ministry.
Savannah Harbor Festival of Lights will be open Wednesdays through Sundays, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, from 6-10 p.m.