The Howard Hospital foundation celebrated the opening of the 19th annual Symphony of Lights outdoor holiday display this weekend with two fundraising events at Symphony Woods Park, in Columbia.
The weekend kickoff event, known as Dazzle Dash weekend, consisted of a run through the 1.4 mile light course on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 17 and a family fun day and stroll on Sunday, Nov. 18.
Both events, which formally began when the holiday display is turned on at 5:30 p.m., included activities and food vendors, including popular grocer Wegmans' and the Ellicott City baked goods seller, From Momma's Kitchen.
Included in the pre-event activities and entertainment were the Columbia Association's Zumba dancers, giveaways, face painting stations and arts and crafts.
Howard Hospital Foundation's fundraising and event coordinator Victoria Khomutetsky said the event has grown larger each year, and, although the total attendance number has not yet been tallied, this year's turnout may be the biggest yet.
"We were blessed with really great weather and had an amazing turnout," Khomutetsky said. "It certainly felt like this year will be one of the biggest years we've ever had."
In previous years, Khomutetsky said, the organization hosted more than 1,000 participants on Saturday and more than three times as many for the family stroll on Sunday.
All the proceeds from the events, and the Symphony of Lights drive-through display, benefit Howard County General Hospital.
The event also marked this year's unveiling of the more-than 250,000 bulb light display, which Khomutetsky said is visited by more than 100,000 people each year.
For students in Centennial High School's National Honor Society, the events present an opportunity to embody the holiday spirit of giving back by volunteering at a known Howard County holiday tradition.