Dazzle dashers and dancers kick off the holidays

Several thousand people gathered at Columbia's Symphony of Lights last weekend for the Dazzle Dash, a two-day event to raise money for the Howard Hospital Foundation.

About 1,000 people registered for a run through the lights on Saturday, Nov. 23, — many of whom showed up for the race in reindeer antlers, jungle bells, red and green tutus and other festive attire. More than 3,000 people registered for a slower paced family-friendly walk through the lights the next day.

Families enjoyed holiday music, moonbounces, face painting and crafts. Zumba instructors led the crowd in dances to keep participants warm.

Money raised from the event, and from the Symphony of Lights display, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, supports the needs of Howard County General Hospital. In the past, the money has gone toward upgrading the hospital's medical library computer system, funding the purchase of giraffe incubator beds for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and purchasing technology for every county ambulance that permits emergency crews to transmit EKG data to the ER while they are on the way to the hospital.

Last year, the Symphony of Lights raised more than half a million dollars for the hospital.

Howard Hospital Foundation Special Events Associate Emily Shreve called the Dazzle Dash "a treasured holiday tradition."

She added: "The Dazzle Dash kicks off the holiday season for thousands of people in our community. We are extremely grateful to all the members of our community who have donated to the Dazzle Dash and Symphony of Lights."

The Symphony of Lights display, located off Broken Land Parkway, is open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. and runs through Jan. 5. For more information, visit hcgh.org/symphonyoflights.

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