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March of Dimes kicks off the 2019 Fantasy in Lights season with annual fundraiser

Callaway Gardens opened its Fantasy in Lights on Saturday with a walk through the display to benefit the March of Dimes. The event raised $32,000 for the charity, which is committed to preventing birth defects, infant mortality and premature birth.  

Along with walkers raising money for charity were visitors who enjoy coming back each year for the lights.  

“This is our third walk,” guest Brad Cortiss said.  “It’s a family tradition.” 

Cortiss’ wife, McKenzie, said she was pregnant with their youngest child, Pierce, at last year’s walk.  This year, Pierce was riding along in a wagon with older brother Reece.   

Another young visitor, Alex Short, previously saw the lights as part of a field trip and was back on Saturday with other friends.  

“I like the lights,” Short said.  

The walk is a 27-year tradition at Callaway Gardens. The route winds through five miles of lighted scenes with a holiday theme. It ends with cocoa and cookies at the beach.   

This year’s walk featured an extra surprise, a wedding performed at the Snowflake Valley scene.  

Leigha and Jason Jonestock got married there because of a question often asked of the bride.  They told the story in their wedding announcement.  

“A world traveler, Leigha is often asked about her favorite destination.  Her answer has always been Callaway Gardens at Christmas time, standing under a cascade of twinkling lights in Snowflake Valley.  So, that is where we will exchange our vows,” the announcement said. 

The Festival in Lights opens as a drive-through event on Friday, Nov. 15 and runs nightly through Jan. 4, 2020.  Visitors can see the lights by car or in a Callaway Gardens Jolly Trolley.  Shopping is available at the Christmas Village.  Special nights include Fantasy and Fireworks on New Year’s Eve.   

Fantasy in Lights tickets are available at Callawaygardens.com.