The attraction Lights of the South is offering families the chance to take a hayride together and enjoy some of the wonders of Christmas through a dazzling trail of lights.
Set on 106 acres just south of Interstate 20 on Louisville Road in Grovetown, Lights of the South boasts more than 2.5 million lights arranged on more than 200 displays.
Benjamin Bell, a builder and president of Bell's Commercial Construction, said he's owned the property for about four years and decided that he didn't want to build another subdivision but something families could enjoy.
"I wanted to do something fun and I love Christmas," Bell said.
Beginning in May, Bell and some of his employees began planning the light displays and laying out the path for the trail, cutting down trees and underbrush.
"There was nothing out here (before) but woods, it was all overgrown," assistant Karen Hood said.
Bell's staff built the lighted displays that line the 1-mile trail.
"I've got a bunch of good people," he said. "I told them what I wanted ... and they created it."
Noah Cadisch, one of the builders, said the displays took a minimum of five to six hours each to build.
"We tried to tell a story ... We tried to make it themed," Bell said.
The trail begins with the story of Jesus and moves into Noah's ark. Also included in the trail are Santa Claus, castles, rainbows, cartoon characters, flowers, and Tara from Gone with the Wind.
Georgia Power installed nine transformers to power the lights, Bell said.
"Back when I was growing up, Christmas meant more," Bell said. "It was more of an event. It wasn't so commercial."
Bell said that by building Lights of the South he intended to bring families, friends and neighbors together and reintroduce people to the Christmas he knew as a child.
"The overall whole goal was to try to find a way for a family to come out and for two or three hours get ... into the meaning of Christmas (and) sing Christmas carols if they want to," he said.
Families also can roast marshmallows and visit Santa Claus.
Lights of the South has five to six hayrides going at a time and families are welcome to ride through the trail again and again, Bell said.
"We didn't want (people) to drive through because if you really want to (take your time to) see something you're going to get stuck there," Bell said.
The idea was to avoid problems he heard about at light trails at Lake Lanier, where "people will flash their lights and you're going to feel guilty and move on."
The first night, before a single commercial had run, Lights of the South welcomed 500 people, Bell said.
He said that most people probably will want to visit as Christmas nears or on the weekends. The closer to Christmas people visit, though, the more crowded the trail is expected to become, Bell said, adding that people should come in groups.
"When big groups come together ... it's neat. They start singing Christmas carols," he said. "That's what I would like people to do."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.