DUBLIN — I’m dreaming of a … green Christmas?
The organizers of this year’s annual Festival of Lights at Lu Mil Vineyard must have been dreaming that way. The centerpiece of the light show this year is the Vineyard’s iconic windmill strung with green lights. As part of the “Green Light A Vet” initiative, the tree is intended to draw attention to the military during what could be a difficult time of the year for veterans and their families.
“As folks from all over visit our light show, we want our tree of green lights to remind veterans how special they are to us and how much we appreciate their service,” said Denise Bridgers, co-owner of Lu Mil. “We encourage everyone to show their support by burning a green light for our veterans.”
In addition to the tree, the Vineyard is lit up with hundreds of thousands of other lights. From the warmth of their car, guests can enjoy a visual display synced to favorite Christmas tunes like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause,” “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bells.” During the 30-minute drive, visitors meander through the vineyard at their own pace viewing lighted spectacles like grape clusters being shot out of a cannon, inflated snowmen and lighted archways.
For many guests, a favorite part of the Festival of Lights is the country buffet, perhaps because of what’s outside as much as what’s inside. On Thursday, people were congregated outside the dining hall, sitting in rocking chairs by heaters or just standing around trying to keep warm in the 30-degree temperatures while their kids played tag.
“We usually sell hot chocolate in the gift shop, but we set up a stand out here (by the dining hall) because people just seem to enjoy congregating out here,” said Bridgers.
“This is what Christmas should feel like,” said Beverly Sampson, as she inched closer to a heater and rubbed her hands together. “It’s cold, the kiddos are running around, our bellies are full, and all the lights — it’s Christmas!”
In the candy store, children and parents alike were filling their arms with chocolate-covered peanuts, pretzels dipped in white chocolate, gummie worms, and other assorted goodies while vineyard staff tried to keep everything stocked.
Santa and Mrs. Clause were busy hosting youngsters — and some not-so-young-sters — and hearing Christmas wishes. Offered by Lu Mil as a free service, visits and photos with Santa surprised some guests.
“They’re really good,” said Judeecia Johnson, who brought her 2-year-old son. “I thought my son would be afraid — he usually is — but he went right up there. And (Santa’s) suit is beautiful.”
“I believe,” she added.
The Festival of Lights will run nightly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Dec. 23. Lu Mil is located at 438 Suggs-Taylor Road in Dublin.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.