MARSHALL — Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday evening in downtown Marshall for the opening ceremony of the annual Wonderland of Lights.

“I just wanted to welcome you all back to the Wonderland of Lights,” said Mayor Amy Ware.

“After 2020, we needed this joy back into our lives, so I hope 2021 and this Christmas season is full of joy and love and hope for you all,” Ware said as she welcomed attendees and introduced special guests Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Reflecting on the occasion, Marshall Main Street Director Veronique Ramirez said how excited she was to be a part of the planning as a newcomer to the city.

“This is incredible. I’ve heard so many stories about how Marshall really comes together during Christmastime, and this is evidence of (that),” she said.

Daniel Duke, the city’s new tourism director, also welcomed the crowd.

“Having the opening of Wonderland of Lights so close to Thanksgiving is perfect,” Duke said. “We should all be thankful that we’re all here. COVID is subsiding; we can celebrate the holidays together and look forward to a great new year.”

Ramirez thanked volunteers, the City Council and mayor for their devotion to the project.

“It truly took a village to make Wonderland of Lights happen, and this is just the beginning,” she said. “We’re excited about next year. We’re already starting to plan things. We hope you enjoy this season.”

Wonderland of Lights features an outdoor ice skating rink, a carousel, a Christmas train and horse-drawn carriages from 6 to 9 p.m. every Thursday to Sunday through Dec. 23. All of Santa’s Village activities will be free to the public.

For more information and a schedule, visit .

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