Holiday of Lights 5K brings great attendance to annual light display

Crowds turn out for race that’s merry and bright.
Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 11:43 PM EST
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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) -The Holiday of Lights at Bluefield’s Lotito Park is a Christmas tradition for many in the area. While normally, you’d have to wait until Thanksgiving to see the sparkling spectacle, some people got to see an early preview of the lights while getting in some ‘light’ cardio.

This year’s Holiday of Lights 5K saw a great attendance. Organizers say more than 150 people participated in the race, many of them returning runners from previous years. But what makes the race so popular? One organizer suspects it’s the park’s Christmas light makeover that attracts experienced runners and novices alike.

“...People get to see the Holiday of Lights for the first time. It actually doesn’t open to the public till next week, so this is the first chance to get... a look at the lights. And we’ve got a lot of... walkers in this 5K that just go in and walk around the park to enjoy the lights,” says Justin Hawkins, programs special event coordinator at the City of Bluefield’s Parks and Recreation.

New this year is the race’s start and end location: Mitchell Stadium. Hawkins says Bluefield’s Parks and Recreation chose this spot to show off the stadium’s new multicolored light show.

“It was a big investment for the city, so we wanted to utilize them and show people what they could do and try to mix up the race with something new,” says Hawkins.

Following the race, awards were distributed for best costume and fastest runner of each age and gender category. The winner overall was Braden Ward, who won last year as well. He says the fun theming keeps him coming back.

“I ran it five years ago, liked it because of the lights, something cool to do, so I came back last year and I’m probably going to keep coming back...” says Ward, “...It’s definitely a fun race. You can dress up, run, have lights around you. It’s definitely a fun race.”

Ward encourages others to join him at the starting line when the Holiday of Lights 5K returns next year. If you are looking for some running tips from the winner, Ward says to keep your running consistent by running every day.