Holidays in the park


Parks in St. Charles County get in the holiday spirit with dazzling displays and fun activities

By Brett Auten

Are you looking for a close and free way to bask in some holiday glow? The St. Charles County Parks has you covered with its Holiday Happenings and Events. From a mini Polar Express, to a candlelight walk and a Santa Search, there are options aplenty.

The Holiday Toy Train Display runs through Jan. 31 at the Heritage Museum, located at 1630 Heritage Landing. 

Young and old appreciate the museum’s Holiday Toy Train Display that runs through January. This year’s display features extended tracks, a new train and scenes that highlight landmark buildings in St. Charles County along with the Polar Express and Frosty’s Winter Wonderland. 

“It is a magical thing to come out and view,” Nancy Gomer, Marketing Coordinator and Public Information Officer with the St. Charles County Parks Department, said. “It is in its fourth year and has really become popular.”

The museum will also serve as a donation site for the Toys for Tots, a program created by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, which collects new unwrapped toys and distributes those toys to less fortunate children at Christmas. If you’d like to spread some holiday cheer by donating, bring new unwrapped toys to the museum through  Dec. 21. The museum is free and open 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday and noon –5 p.m., Sunday and will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Call 636-255-6000 for more information.

“The atmosphere is very soothing,” Gomer said. “Both kids and adults are almost mesmerized.” 

O’Fallon’s Zumwalt Park, located at 1000 Jessup Drive, is home to The Celebration of Lights, a holiday light display held at the park where each scene is designed and funded by local organizations, churches, and businesses. Started in 1991, it attracts more than 10,000 vehicles each year.

The park is again aglow with thousands of lights shining along one-mile drive, merry holiday scenes and inspiring nativities. This year’s display includes everyone’s favorite, the Tunnel of Lights, and new scenes including a castle with “Beauty & the Beast” characters and a “Christmas Vacation” scene.

The Celebration of Lights will continue nightly through Dec. 30 (except on Christmas, Dec.25), offering a variety of ways to tour the park on different days and with varying admission costs.

Sleighrides can be booked in advance on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; the cost is $100 for groups of 20, including children seated on laps. Rides can be booked by calling 636-379-5606 with a credit card, or reserved in-person with cash or check. For more information, email estoll@ofallon.mo.us.

Horse-drawn rides, which also must be reserved in advance, can be booked for any evening except on Mondays or on Dec. 25 (Christmas). The cost varies; for reservations contact Brookdale Farms at www.brookdalefarmsinc.com/celebration-of-lights or 636-938-1005.

Drive through the park in your own vehicle with no reservations needed.The drive-through will be open from 6 – 9 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays (except on Dec. 25), Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 6 – 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $10/car, $15/commercial vans and limousines, and $1/person on tour buses ($25 minimum). 

The Celebration of Lights is sponsored by the City of O’Fallon with the assistance of local businesses and civic organizations. A portion of the proceeds goes to locally-based charities. For more information, visit www.ofallon.mo.us/celebration-of-lights.

CUTLINE: Submitted photos

The Holiday Toy Train Display runs through Jan. 31 at the Heritage Museum, located at 1630 Heritage Landing. 

The Celebration of Lights is a holiday light display held at the park where each scene is designed and funded by local organizations, churches, and businesses.