Volunteers worked on Saturday morning to dismantle displays at Ritzy's Fantasy of Lights after yet another successful year.
Easter Seals said this year's display raised almost $142,000 to fund therapy services.
Officials with the organizations said, while this year's estimate of $141,824 didn't match last year's proceeds of over $157,000, it was the fifth best total in the 20-year history of the Fantasy of Lights.
We're told that officials estimate this year's proceeds will help to fund almost 3,000 sessions of physical, occupational and speech therapy for Tri-State children and adults with disabilities served by the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center.
Officials said attendance was affected early in the event by snow and icy driving conditions and later by heavy rains. The event was also shorter than last year, due to fewer days between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
The "magical mile of holiday lights" in Evansville's Garvin Park was open from Thanksgiving through Jan. 1.
We're told, at one point, admissions were running $25,000 behind last year's pace. But thanks to an increase in attendance through the holidays, and the generosity of many event visitors who gave extra donations, that gap was narrowed significantly in the final two weeks of the event, to approximately $15,000 under last year's total.
Fantasy of Light's officials said additional contributions at the welcome booth played a major role in the success of the display. This year's grand total includes $18,373 in extra donations received from generous event visitors.
They say a total of 11,047 cars, trucks, vans, buses, horse-drawn carriages and other vehicles drove through the event. For the first time ever, about 820 people participated in a special walk-through night on Dec. 2, when the park was closed to vehicles but welcomed pedestrians.
Officials told 14 News that the 21st annual Ritzy's Fantasy of Lights has already been moved into the planning stages. It will open on Thanksgiving night—Nov. 28, 2014—and will run through Jan. 1, 2015.
Companies, organizations, churches and families interested in sponsoring a light display in next year's show are invited to contact Easter Seals Director of Special Events, Laura Roettger, at 812-437-2627.
Since 1994, officials say Ritzy's Fantasy of Lights has now raised net proceeds of approximately $2,676,700 to help underwrite therapy. The Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center offers a sliding fee scale for medical rehabilitation services, and no one is turned away due to inability to pay for therapy. The nonprofit headquartered at 3701 Bellemeade Avenue provides a wide range of services to more than 5,550 individuals from 30 area counties.
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