Winterhaven 'Festival of Lights' prepares for another year

Winterhaven 'Festival of Lights' prepares for another year

CREATED Dec 14, 2012

Reporter: Justin Schecker

Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Each year, the Winterhaven neighbors light up their homes for the holiday season.

This Festival of Lights attracts thousands of visitors who donate to the Southern Arizona Community Food Bank.

Robin Dolezal puts the finishing touches on his Festival of Lights display -- appropriately themed "New Deer on the Block."

"When my wife and I started looking for a new home, Winterhaven was one of the first places just because of the historic neighborhood," Dolezal said. "The community feel and obviously the Festival of Lights."

And now in his second year living in Winterhaven, Dolezal is actually the festival chair. He's come to the festival for years and knew his neighbors would go all out. 

"This gentleman on the corner has what we call Winterhaven zoo and he was actually our prize winner last year," Dolezal said. "He's actually added more animals and more animations to his display. I was hoping to beat him but I don't think that's going to happen."

While there's friendly competition among neighbors, Dolezal said they embrace the chance to give back to families in need during the holiday season.

"To be able to help the community food bank in such a huge impact over the course of just two weeks is great," he said. 

Over at the food bank, CEO Bill Carnegie said demand is up 10 percent from last year, and at the end of November the food bank was down $400,000. 

"We desperately need the product that comes from that as well as the financial contributions. It's just really critical this time of year," Carnegie said. 

Dolezal is up to that task.

"I think last year we were able to raise about 45,000 pounds of food," Carnegie said. "Just shy of 20,000 dollars in monetary donations, so hopefully this year we can beat that."