It was American Red Cross night - which meant all the volunteers were from the Red Cross. Although the display itself is "free", we collect donations at the end, and the donations are split amongst various charities in the area.
I get to the park at 5:00 pm - so layered that it was difficult to sit in my little sports car and drive there. Thankfully, I live all of five minutes away - so my discomfort of squeezing myself in a small car with 16 items of clothing on was of short duration. We all get a short orientation from the park rangers, and then it's time to go - the gates are opening, and the cars will be coming.
Christmas in the Park has been around for 18 years now. It's a drive-through display of over 300,000 lights and 175 animated figures - it's really quite impressive. I've posted a link above to see some video on You-Tube; but video doesn't do it justice. It's a really "must-see to be believed" display.
So, anyway - gates open; cars begin arriving; and the fun begins. As volunteers, our job is to man the donation booths at the end of the display - and pass out free chocolates to every person in every car. Our biggest job, though, is to make merry with all of the visitors - shoot the breeze, ask them if they had fun, and thank them for the generous donations to the charities. It's been fun in the past, but with the weather conditions, the fun is a little dampened.
Last night turned out to be the busiest night the display has had - it opened Thanksgiving night. It was the "perfect storm" of light-gazing, apparently. The kiddies are now out of school for the holiday; it's 3 days before Christmas; and bad weather is expected here in Kansas City the rest of the week. Sooooo...every person in Kansas City sat down with their family and decided that Monday night was the PERFECT night to go see the lights. The result? A 2-hour wait for most cars to get in to see the lights. Seriously. Can you imagine waiting 2 hours in a line of cars to see Christmas lights? But that's what happened. Well, it kept us hopping last night. No rest for the weary - we didn't get a chance to really rest, or warm up - we were greeting thousands of cars - all full of sleepy, bleary-eyed children and lots and lots of dogs. I didn't know dogs enjoyed the Christmas lights so much - every dog in Kansas City has seen the lights now.
So, although the display officially closes at 10:00 pm - they let the last car in line at 10:00 snake their way through - so we didn't finish until 11:15 pm. Six hours, 15 minutes of being outside in the elements - on my feet - oh joy. Actually, the only part of my body that was exposed to the elements were my eyes - and consequently, my left eye froze. Seriously. It became very cloudy and foggy - kinda' freaked me out for awhile, thinking I had developed an instantaneous cataract or something. (I had lasix surgery about 18 months ago - and this is one of my side effects - if my eyes get too dried out, they get very blurry). I felt like I was blind, trying to drive home.
Did I tell you that I have the most wonderful Hubby in the world??? I do - I really do. Not only did he wait 2 hours in the line last night to bring me hot chocolate (although it was cold chocolate by the time he got through the car line!), but he had hot soup and sandwiches waiting for me when I got home. At 11:30 pm. And he ran a hot bath for me and he helped me take off my 16 items of clothing - layer by layer. He put drops in my blind eyes, and he wrapped me in warm towels, and he helped me defrost. He is truly an angel. I am blessed.
So - was it worth it? Absolutely. It was awesome to know I was helping out a good cause. It was awesome to see the joy in the kids' eyes after they had seen the lights. It was awesome to see the delight of the women when we handed them free Russell Stover chocolates. It was awesome to see the excited puppies and dogs in the back seats (but no chocolate for them - sorry!). It was awesome to come home, frozen like a polar bear or a popsicle, and have a DH that treated me like a queen and took care of me. And it was awesome to climb into my warm sheets, blissfully warm and blissfully exhausted.
Be sure to do YOUR part today to save the world - one act at a time, one day at a time. Make a difference somewhere.