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Let There Be Lights on the Lake for Year 26

For almost a quarter century of my life here in Central New York, Lights on the Lake was something that danced in the outer portion of my holiday brain without really taking a whirl on center stage.

You may know the feeling.

People share about how how they're packing up the car with their kids to take it in later while in line at the market, and you nod your head because you've heard your friends talk about it, too. It's so familiar you feel like you've been there.

Last year, my dear wife Karen convinced me it would be a good idea for us to go see what it was all about at last up there at on the shore of Onondaga Lake, on the night they allowed walkers in to take the trail lined with the special light attractions. And so we did. It was a cold night, but I much enjoyed the stroll and the show. You can read about it and see photos on my blog,

This year, we decided to take pre-show Option Two, Dog Walk Night. And so last night, on a drizzly Tuesday, we hooked up Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle, handed a donation that went to a fine organization that helps canines to a volunteer, and joined the pooch parade. The rain did little to deter the enthusiasm on either side of the leashes. The dogs and folks were generally well behaved, just a growl here or there to be expected. But early holiday spirit prevailed.

The 26th year of Lights on the Lake officially starts today, gates on the Liverpool side of Onondaga Lake Park off the Parkway opening at 5 p.m. and closing at 10 p.m. Cars drive west along the trail toward the Willow Bay side.

The extravaganza continues nightly until Sunday, Jan. 3.

Giving until Jan. 3.

As a general rule, it's $10 per car weekday nights or $15 per car Friday through Sundays. But you can find more details on the event's site.

If you haven't yet, here's why you might want to join the vehicle parade:

•The displays include light-constructed boats alongside the real Marina and Yacht Club. I liked the realistic touch of that one. Fans of Oz can rejoice as well with Dorothy and Toto and all of your favorite characters. Of course you'll find Santa, his reindeer and a full sleigh. There's also a nice touch for those who celebrate Hanukah with a Menorah and kids spinning a Dreidel. The displays are many and light bulbs too numerous to count. It's like driving through blocks where everybody decides to do it maximum.

A neighbor on a deck alongside Lights on the Lake. Yes, his place adds to the aura.

•Neighbors on the far side of the trail get into the spirit, too. If you look toward the passenger side of your vehicle every now and again, you'll get a glance of nicely decorated backyards. Last night we noticed one gentleman standing on his high back deck amid his very elegantly appointed holiday display, watching we walkers and our dogs.

•And when you're back in the swing of life the next morning, you'll be able to do more than nod when the folks around you start talking about taking another trip through Lights on the Lake. 

Mark Bialczak has lived in Central New York for 30 years. He's well known for writing about music and entertainment. In 2013, he started his own blog,, to comment about the many and various things that cross his mind daily.