Holidays

Dove Street lights back at Shelter Cove Towne Centre, will spread into neighboring park

You can't see them from space, but that was the running joke on Dove Street way back when.

"We used to say something funny like that," said Paul Beckler about the Dove Street Festival of Lights, which he and wife Kristi, along with their neighbor Rob Lolik, started with just one string more than two decades ago.

The popular neighborhood light display ran for 20 years on the narrow through-street between North Forest Beach Drive and Dune Lane before he and neighbors on the street decided to call it quits in 2010.

The residents decided to "go dark" as he calls it after cars by the thousands began overwhelming the neighborhood.

"We exceeded the capacity of the whole street," he said. Now, for the second year running, the light show will return to Shelter Cove Towne Centre where the "tastefully tacky" display has found a new home.

Beckler couldn't be more pleased that the spirit of Dove Street lives on.

"It's sort of like that thing you got used to seeing every year and it was the tradition," he said. "And when it went away, everyone wanted it back."

New to the festival this year is the addition of light displays in Shelter Cove Community Park. The park was completed earlier in the year and will feature white lights with a 30-foot-tall tree on display in an area behind the park's fountain.

Festival organizers also extended the festivities by adding two weeks to the event and opening just before Thanksgiving.

And while there will always be those who liked the old display just the way it was, the new location allows for such things as parking, bathrooms and nightly entertainment, said Beckler, who still helps with the display and charitable efforts behind the project.

"Everyone wanted to perform and be part of it and there wasn't room to do all that on Dove Street," he said.,

Last year the festival raised more than $11,000 for local charities.

Most of all, he is pleased that it continues to make people happy in the spirit in which it was created.

"The lights just bring out a spirit from passersby that makes for a unique experience," he said. "... There is an incredible camaraderie there. ...It's an effect that extends itself to other people."

If you go

The Dove Street Festival of Lights begins Nov. 21 and will run from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 2, at Shelter Cove Towne Centre, 40 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island.

The light display will feature nightly entertainment and more than 75,000 lights, including the original dove from the long-running neighborhood display.

An official public lighting ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Dec. 1. The event will feature Hilton Head High School marching band and school chorus, the Hilton Head Fire & Rescue Division, magician Gary Maurer, Cappy the Clown and Morgan's Mommy's Face Painting. And, of course, Santa Claus will make an appearance.

The center will be closed to traffic for the Dec. 1 festivities.

Proceeds raised from the festival go to the Hilton Head Island Recreation Association (The Island Recreation Center), The Deep Well Project and Programs for Exceptional People.

For a complete schedule of entertainment or to make an online donation, visit www.sheltercovetownecentre.com.

Follow reporter Mindy Lucas on Twitter at twitter.com/MindyatIPBG.

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