David Pessagno, the organizer of the new Broome County Festival of Lights at Otsiningo Park is the guest on the weekly, local public affairs program, Southern Tier Close Up.

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Pessagno, who has been involved with the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally in Broome County for decades, says the board of directors of that charitable event, which had to be canceled this year due to the pandemic, was inspired to bring back the drive-through holiday lights festival as a welcome relief for local families.

(Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

Delta Engineers and several companies, organizations and Broome County all got on board to create the display at Otsiningo Park in the Town of Dickinson for residents to safely enjoy from their cars.

The light festival had been a fundraiser for many years for the Southern Tier Independence Center until flooding at the park destroyed infrastructure and the event was no longer feasible as a revenue-generator for the charity.

The new festival is benefitting several worthy organizations, including programs that benefit veterans, Catholic Charities and the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally.

While this is the first year for the new incarnation of the festival, Pessagno says it is being positively received and people have been generous in helping neighbors to also enjoy the show.  Pessagno says most nights, attendees preparing to go through the display will pay for the vehicle behind them and some people have purchased admissions for nursing homes, children's groups and group homes.

WNBF News/Roger Neel Photo

In addition to the lighted displays, some nights feature fireworks, tethered hot air balloons filled and light for a "night glow" and appearances by Santa.

Pessagno says he anticipates in future years, post-pandemic, the event will be able to expand and include walk-through elements, photo opportunities, food trucks and other attractions.

The Festival of Lights is open Sunday through Thursday 5-9 p.m. and Friday & Saturday 5-10 p.m. through January 10.

Admission is $15 per vehicle (no matter number of occupants) for as many drives around the park as one wishes. Admission is free for veterans.

For more information on the festival, groups benefitting or how to contribute go to bcfestivaloflights.com or spiediefest.com. People wishing to provide support for special groups or to contribute to the lights or Spiedie Fest can call Dave Pessagno at (607) 761-2475.

Southern Tier Close Up is heard Saturdays at 6:04 a.m. on News Radio 1290 WNBF and any time on the WNBF podcast.

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