OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. — The switch was flipped for another year of Oglebay’s Festival of Lights on Thursday night in Ohio County.
It's a tradition that began in 1985, and has grown like wildflowers during the years.
“Whether that's from Pittsburgh, Ohio, Canada -- all the over to South Carolina -- we have people that come visit us from all over,” Wilson Lodge General Manager Beth Whitehouse Said.
More than a million people are expected to visit to check out the lights over the next two months.
Preparations for Light Up Night is something that essentially starts the day after the display shuts down for the season.
“There's actually a year-long process, particularly with the lights,” Whitehouse said. “We're tearing them down, we're painting, we're replacing bulbs all the time. Then here at the lodge, we actually start decorating after Oglebayfest.”
Thousands of people are expected to flock to Wheeling this holiday season to take a look at the one of the city's greatest tourist attractions.
"This is just the beginning,” said Oglebay President and CEO David Lindelow. “We'll have 30,000 cars come through here in the next 8 or 9 weeks, so this is just the start of it. But I think we're ready. We have this prepared and it’s going to be exciting.”
This is Lindelow’s first year taking on the grand light show.
"My first visit to Oglebay was actually last December when I got to see the Festival of Lights, and now to be a part of it is just tremendous," he said.
NEWS9 got a first look at the display spanning over 300 acres.
A new feature this year is getting to view the lights in 3D.
The biggest one is the chance to see the lights in 3D.
“People can make a $25 donation to get a family 4-pack (of 3D glasses), that will allow them to see the lights like they've never seen them before. It's really exciting,” Whitehouse said.
There's also a new light show at the Good Zoo, which is choreographed to the music of the nutcracker.
And Oglebay officials think the mix of traditional and brad new will be perfect for anyone coming to check out the show.
“I think that the 3D glasses are going to make the Festival of Lights very special this year, and I think it will allow people that have experienced it in the past to experience it in a way they haven't seen it before.”
Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) is a big fan of the festival. She said there is something for those of all ages to enjoy.
"I’ve been a frequent visitor of the festival of lights over the years. Our children just love it. It gets bigger and better, and now we have 3D glasses so we can see it in a whole different way,” she said.
While the festival offers bundles of holiday fun, it also impacts the Wheeling community, bringing in people from across the state and region.
"It generates a lot of tourism dollars, it gets people in the gift shop, it gives them a really good impression of our state an excellent impression of our state,” Capito said. “So, as they say, it’s all good. And I’m glad it’s here and I’m glad it’s grown as much as it has.”
"There aren’t many light shows like this in the country, and to have something this big, this close to where a lot of people live, you just got to take advantage of it,” said WesBanco President and CEO Todd Clossin.
The lights will remain on display until Jan. 1.
The display is officially open to the public Friday.