Craig Day, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- This time of year, workers at the Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve and Rhema Bible Church are as busy as Santa's elves.
"Make sure they're still working," said Brenda McLaughlin, a Woolaroc employee.
They're making a to-do list, checking the lights, going to find out what's dull and what's bright, because lots of visitors are coming to town.
"The more attractions we add, the more people come," David Wildman, with Rhema, said.
With more than two million lights this year at Rhema, and more than half a million at Woolaroc, the shining stars who don't always get the holiday limelight, are the employees who make everything run smoothly.
And the week of Thanksgiving?
"It is go time right now," said Bob Fraser, Woolaroc CEO.
"They start in September, and even if you work on a fast schedule, it always comes down to the last week," Wildman said.
Rhema started putting up its Christmas display in 1982 with 60,000 lights. It now draws 200,000 visitors.
"Goes well beyond just our city limits, it's known across the country," said Wildman.
Woolaroc is also a Christmastime tradition for many who come to see the displays and the Frank Phillips cabin and other buildings decorated inside and out.
"It's just a wonderful fun evening," Fraser said. "We like to think of it as sort of the old fashioned country Christmas."
But, first things first. At both Oklahoma festive favorites, they're checking and re-checking and trouble shooting.
"Wrapping all the trees," McLaughlin said. "Squirrel damage. The squirrels like to check everything out."
"Fuses that blow last minute," Wildman said. "Strings that have to be completely replaced."
"We're testing cords," Fraser said.
It's a lot of work, but worth it when the bulbs and displays light up, along with the faces of so many visitors.
"It is a neat experience to share with people," Fraser said.
"It all comes on and it's just really beautiful," McLaughlin said.
You can watch Rhema turn its lights on during a ceremony this Wednesday November 24, 2010 during the News On 6 at 6 p.m. It runs through New Years. Admission is free.
Woolaroc's Wonderland of Lights begins this Friday, November 26, 2010 and runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through December 19th. Admission is $4 for adults and anyone under eleven is just $1.
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