Ouabache State Park will honor its Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) legacy at its annual Wonderland of Lights celebration with a CCC Tribute Tree.
The tree is being dedicated on Nov. 30 at 5 p.m., right before the park’s Reindeer Romp and Jingle Jog event, which starts at 6 p.m.
The first light show at Ouabache was created 80 years ago on Dec. 19, 1939, by CCC members using a flagpole that stood near the Nursery Service Building. The “tree” consisted of 16 strands of 16 blue lights hung from the flagpole, with a diameter of 32 feet at the bottom. According to the Evening News Banner, people came into the park from miles around to see the display, which the Banner called “one of the largest displays in the country.”
The Tribute Tree keeps the 16 strands of blue lights, though the number per strand differs from the number on the original. It’s still located at a flagpole but this one is near the park’s CCC monument. It’s also surrounded by 13 pine trees that symbolize the original 13 colonies.
The Reindeer Romp is a 2.5 mile fun run, while the Jingle Jog is a walk. Both events travel through the park’s Wonderland of Lights, an annual event where businesses, individuals, families, or non-profits decorate the park’s campsites with lights and holiday decorations for the Christmas season. The show includes a light show, synchronized to music, around the fire tower.
First Bank of Berne in Bluffton partnered with the Friends of Ouabache and Ouabache State Park to bring the Tribute Tree to the Wonderland of Lights, which is offered every evening from Dec. 4 through 31, from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission to the event is $5.
To register in advance for the Reindeer Run or Jingle Jog, see raceroster.com/events/2019/27748/reindeer-romp-and-jingle-jog. Cost is $10 for adults; children are free. Ouabache State Park (on.IN.gov/ouabachesp) is at 4930 E. St. Road 201, Bluffton, 46714.