SEKY December 2021 - Page 14

displays on General Burnside Island State Park hit the planning table in January of 1993 .
“ The ladies were able to put together a plan and Christmas Island opened it ’ s gate for the first time in November of 1993 ,” he added . “ Little did they know that there would be families from all over the Bluegrass State that would make this part of their Christmas Tradition for each and every year until Christmas 2004 .”
At the time of its inception , Christmas Island was the original and only light display in the entire state of Kentucky . It actually paved the way for perhaps the state ’ s best known such show , Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington , which began in 1994 .
Ask nearly any Pulaski Countian over the age of 30 , and they ’ ll have memories of visiting Christmas Island . At its peak , Christmas Island featured over 300 individual displays , over one million bulbs , and such perks as limo rides , horsedrawn carriage rides and more . It was featured on the KET program “ Kentucky Life ” in 2003 ( Season 9 Episode 25 ) as one of Kentucky ’ s most popular Christmas traditions on December 20th 2003 .
And even though Christmas Island eventually died down due to volunteer fatigue and maintenance costs , and disappeared like Santa ’ s sleigh into the snowy night sky , the people of the Lake Cumberland region never forgot about it .
“ Each year we receive calls across the state wondering if the Christmas Lights are back on the Island ,” said Crabtree . “ We knew that even though it had been since 2004 that Christmas Island had been open that it was plenty fresh in everyone ’ s mind . We hope this is a great first year and to build on every year to come .”
Christmas Island has always been a big undertaking , noted Crabtree , who called the work maintaining and setting up the entire presentation a “ monumental task .”
He credited Mike Prater , an instructor at Somerset Technical College , as being an anchor in years past for Christmas Island operations .
“ Like elves in Santa ’ s workshop , his students could be found working throughout the year changing bulbs , wiring , and building new scenes that were unique to only Christmas Island ,” said Crabtree . “ It was a great program that provided hands-on education and experience while offering a great service for the community . It helped to control cost , provide maintenance , add new displays , and made it possible for many years .”
The original Christmas Island music one could listen to on the radio while taking the tour was provided by a local radio station , 910 am , and it was known as the official radio station of Christmas Island back in the day . For the new Christmas Island , Burnside is partnering with Somerset 106 and Kevin
14 • SEKY - Life in Southeast Kentucky December 2021