Every year The Lakes Festival of Lights rings in the holiday season in a fun way for families from across the Las Vegas Valley. This year's event is slated for noon to 10 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Lake East Drive and Lake Sahara Drive.
Ward 2 Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers plans to preside over the event, which is set to include family-style entertainment such as singing, dancing, bands and local celebrities. Children can visit Santa Claus and enjoy a petting zoo and pony rides. An arts and crafts area, a car show, refreshments for purchase and exhibits also are planned. Outback Steakhouse plans to offer a $5 meal, and Engine 1 Pizza plans to sell pizza from its customized 1965 Seagrave fire engine.
The street will be blocked off, and free parking will be available in the Citibank lot at 8725 W. Sahara Ave. Admission is free.
"Last year we had something new that was really a lot of fun, a 20-foot, solar-powered bubble machine," said organizer Greg Toussaint's wife, Donna. "The children just loved it. They were all over the place ... and when the parents tried to take the children away from the bubbles (to go see the animals), the children cried. They loved the bubbles."
The petting zoo was sponsored by entertainers Siegfried & Roy. The bubble machine was from NV Energy. The bubbles formed clusters that floated in the air.
"The kids held them in their arms," said organizer Greg Toussaint. "They didn't want to let go."
The always-popular car show will again be a part of the daylong event, and attendees get to vote for their favorites. The classic cars and trucks will compete for titles such as Most Unusual and Best in Show.
As many as 60 crafters plan to have booths at the event. All are local artisans, selling items such as quilts, wall decor, paintings, kitchen items and holiday gifts. Each crafter donates an item to the festival's raffle. Safe Nest, a shelter for homeless and abused women and children, is one of the charities set to benefit from the proceeds. Foreclosed Upon Pets Inc. plans to have animals for adoption.
Entertainment is a big part of the festival. Expect music programs from various junior high and high schools to perform throughout the day. The education involvement is a little-mentioned part of the event.
"Any money we make goes to those music programs in the schools because so many of the arts are being cut from schools," Donna Toussaint said. "As someone who is a theater geek, and whose kids were in theater and band and all this stuff, our hearts really go out to these poor kids. The sports programs are always funded. But the arts are very important. I don't think people realize how important, how the arts affect us, how we feel."
Last year saw 10,000 attendees, which generated about $3,000. The money was given to the schools that performed at the festival. Some, the Toussaints said, used the money for music festivals. One of the schools was Johnson Middle School, 7701 Ducharme Ave.
"They used it to buy T-shirts because if you don't have T-shirts, you can't perform," Donna Toussaint said.
The Toussaints were in the middle of trying to secure Cashman Middle School, 4622 W. Desert Inn Road, as one of the participants because Beers played in its band when he was a student.
"My thought is that if we can get them (to have the band perform), maybe the councilman will play with them," Donna Toussaint said.
When darkness sets in, the festival concludes with its parade of lights. Residents who live along The Lakes often go to great lengths to deck out their electric boats with Christmas lights.
For the past four years, Jerry Duskin has participated and takes friends out in his 16-foot boat for the parade. It takes four or five hours to decorate it.
"I'll put poinsettias all along the sides with lights, and then up front I'll have a Christmas tree," he said. "I need another guy to help me ... otherwise, you fall in the water."
For more information, call Greg Toussaint at 702-256-9998.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.