• December 11, 2019

Odessa lights up - Odessa American: Local News

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Odessa lights up

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  • A Sea of Poinsettias

    A sea of poinsettias is a favorite of visitors to Starbright Village, which opens Dec. 6 at McKinney Park.

Posted: Sunday, December 1, 2019 6:00 am

This season, Starbright Village will continue that with a bigger display that organizers say will be brighter than the year before.

Located at McKinney Park, the walk through or drive through display of lights has dazzled throughout the years.

Steve Patton, director of the Odessa Parks and Recreation Department is the master behind the event and says the display began as a modest walk-through that was originally at city hall when it first started in 1989.

“When the walk through started, we just had two displays and it was only a hundred yards long,” Patton said. “It’s gone from that to transforming the park into a drive and now we’re up to 80 displays. Of course, it’s now a drive through and a walk through.”

The number of lights has increased over the years, going from around 270,000 in 2016 to over 400,000 this year.

This year, Starbright Village will be open nightly from 6-11 p.m. beginning on Dec. 5 until Jan. 1.

The city pays for the improvements and the new displays from a combination of funding. The community supports the project through nightly donations. Although the village tours are free, donations are accepted.

On average, around $25,000 to $50,000 in donations are collected each year, all of which goes back into the displays.

“It is a free event, no admissions, but we do take donations at the front entrance to Starbright Village and use that to buy replacement bulbs and other displays,” Patton said. “We’ll use those funds toward just improving it. The event itself, meaning all of the equipment and the tents and the lighting ceremony, if we’re short on donated funds, we’ll use the hotel/motel funds but everything is funded with hotel motel funds.”

When Starbright Village outgrew its home on the parking lot at city hall, it was moved to McKinney Park just off Interstate 20 in 1993.

“I moved it to the interstate knowing that it would be easier to find, as well as being a great place to use hotel occupancy tax funds because it’s right there off the interstate and gets people to come off the highway and come to Odessa and spend some money. It’s become a destination attraction. People come from all over the Permian Basin to see it.

“People driving from everywhere will see it and stop in. We have, and we verified this with a traffic counter, and this does not include walking people that parked and walked, but we had 208,000 visitors last year. The largest we’ve ever had. That’s a lot of visitors to Starbright Village.”

Each year, at least one new display is added and this year will be no different.

“This year we have a large display, which is really cool. It has lot of animation in it. It’s a snowman making machine. It’s really cool, but it’s all animated,” Patton said. “It’s over 14 feet tall and 65 feet long. We also had to replace our big fountain of life. The wind storms blew it apart last year so we had to replace it.”

But another fan favorite, Patton said, is the 50-yard space filled with three-dimensional poinsettias made of rebar and red and gold lights.

“It’s always the poinsettias,” Patton said. “Has been through all the years and still remains the favorite. Everyone loves the sea of poinsettias. We actually make those in-house. Our welders welded it up and wrap it up with lights. It’s spectacular.”

As Starbright Village’s reputation as a quality family entertainment has galvanized over the years,  Patton says the biggest reward is seeing all the excited faces from all the kids that go through it..

“It’s a destination event,” Patton said. “It’s high-quality. Something that family and kids enjoy. People have come to Odessa to see it and there’s nothing like talking to people onsite and to see kids faces light up when they see all the displays and how excited they get.”

Odessa, TX

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