MARSHALL, Texas, Nov. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The year 1986 was not a happy one for Marshall, Texas. Two of the area's top employers closed down. Unemployment skyrocketed to more than 20 percent.
But the publisher of the newspaper had a vision.
"Marshall's square, every tree, every bush, decorated with tiny white lights," George Smith wrote in his editorial. "It could be a spectacle that would rival any other Christmas lighting scene in this area.
"Think about it. We could make it happen."
One Marshall native did more than think about it.
Wendy Russell Reves who had left Marshall to become one of New York's top models in the 1930s was then living in France. The widow of a wealthy publisher and art collector, she had received a copy of Smith's editorial from a school friend, Mildred Carlile.
Reves responded with a note that read, "Have your wish." and a check for $25,000. That was the seed money to help transform Marshall into a Wonderland of Lights.
What began as a simple display of lighted buildings and trees has evolved into an extended festival of more that 10 million lights, synchronized light shows, musical performances, and attractions for every age.
The historic Harrison County Courthouse in downtown Marshall is the glittering centerpiece of the festival. 150,000 multi-colored lights that dance in sync to holiday music each evening of the festival, which runs Nov. 21 through Dec. 31 (closed Dec. 24.)
Festival attractions include the Samsung outdoor ice skating rink; the North Pole Play Land for children ages 10 and under; 32-foot crest Wonderland Mountain exhilarating slide, and the Polar Challenge competition course.
Snowflake, a 12 foot tall rocking horse will bring back childhood memories along with the giant snow globe for holiday photos.
Visitors can also enjoy a city tour in an authentic English double decker bus or take a leisurely carriage tour along Marshall's brilliantly lit streets and past lighting displays throughout the town.
Special events during the festival include the Celebrity Chef series of cooking demonstrations, sponsored by Get Healthy Marshall. Participants get to sample the specialty foods created by well-known chefs.
Marshall is becoming known for its resident artists and a special holiday art exhibit is open daily at no charge at Visitors Center.
For a complete operating schedule and ticket information, log on to www.VisitMarshallTexas.org or contact Marshall Convention and Visitors Bureau at 903-702-7777.
CONTACT: Ed Michel
SOURCE Marshall Convention & Visitors Bureau