By Laura Koenig | Echo
I, along with a small group of friends, snuggled in our winter coats and slipped our warm hats over our ears. Shivering from the chilly air, we meandered to Matter Park in Marion, Indiana on a well-kept path along the Mississinewa River (the Mississinewa Riverwalk). Stars speckled the inky black sky, but they were outshone by more than 2.5 million lights in over two miles of approximately 120 different displays. They guided our steps as we approached the Marion Walkway of Lights.
Because we are college students with small budgets, we decided to park along the river and walk through the Walkway of Lights for free. However, for those hesitant about the cold or busy with finals, a car of people can drive through the park for $5. The ticket is a season pass, so you can go over and over again.
Along the Riverwalk, a "Twelve Days of Christmas" light display greeted our group. We admired the depiction of the song, from a partridge in a pear tree to twelve drummers drumming. The drummers welcomed us into the park where we stopped singing the "Twelve Days of Christmas" and oohed and aahed over the twinkling figures. Some of the colorful displays featured the Indiana Bicentennial, local college logos, flowers, Santa dunking a basketball, and, my personal favorite, dinosaurs. Local businesses sponsor each display.
As we walked further into the park, we started humming along to familiar Christmas carols sung by a group of women standing by a live nativity. The scene was complete with a camel and baby goats. We wandered inside a nearby warm building and were greeted by Santa and Mrs. Claus as well as cups of hot chocolate to thaw our frozen fingers.
The nativity scene was a one-night event that will not return this year; however, Santa comes most Saturdays and Sundays to the Gift Shoppe in the park. The Grinch also makes an appearance on Friday evenings.
The Gift Shoppe overlooked a small pond and was filled with winter decorations, ornaments, snacks and hot chocolate. If you still need a gift for that hard-to-shop-for family member, take a look in the Gift Shoppe. You might find what you're looking for.
It took us two hours to complete this trip, including driving to Marion, walking through the lights and driving back to campus. However, we took the time to sip some hot chocolate, talk to Santa and peruse the Gift Shoppe. If you and your friends are looking for something quick, cheap and fun to celebrate the Christmas season, the Marion Walkway of Lights will help you create those memories. Take a break from studying and admire the beautiful displays.
The display is illuminated nightly from 6-10 p.m. until New Year's Eve.
Walkway of Lights To-Do List
Meet the Grinch
The Grinch seems to get more relatable as we get older, so why not find and thank him for his incredible memes. He's in the Gift Shoppe on Friday evenings from 7-9 p.m. until Christmas and on Saturday, Dec. 10.
Sing "Twelve Days of Christmas"
You could just walk around the "Twelve Days of Christmas" display, or you could sing your way through. Share your caroling skills while admiring those five golden rings.
Explore Jurassic Park
Have you ever wanted to experience Jurassic Park? Matter Park is a land where dinosaurs roam. Check out the display, but be careful of the tyrannosaurus rex!
Find the Bell Tower
The Taylor University Bell Tower isn't just a pillar on our campus. It's also in Matter Park! Hope you can find it.
Take a Band Picture
Indie bands are into railroads, bridges and country roads. Why not take a picture under one of the two light tunnels. It could be your next EP cover.