KENSINGTON, Md. — Like all things this year, Christmas plans and attractions have been adjusted because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the 43rd Annual Festival of Lights in Kensington isn’t excluded. The light show at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is bringing in tons of people and with that brings on tons of traffic.
Some neighbors saying it’s taking them hours to get home because of all the people coming to visit. The traffic woes were somewhat unexpected. “We're having about three to 4000 people per night, on average, and it's been more than we anticipated.” Rob Chappell said.
Jan and Rob Chappell serve as the directors of the Temple’s Visitor Center. “This is the first time we've ever had a drive thru and we want people to feel the love of Christmas. Part of them are in the temple parking lot area, but most are in the visitor center parking lot.” Jan Chappell said.
Thousands are visiting the Kensington attraction, to not only see the lights, but the temple. “Many have seen it from the Beltway but it's a wonderful view a close up view to go through the drive thru and be able to see that as well.” Rob Chappell added.
The bright lights and nativity scenes are putting drivers in the holiday spirit, but traffic has become somewhat of a nightmare on Elm Street during peak hours. “We can't really get more cars going through the light exhibit, more, more quickly, really. So, we're just trying to get them started earlier and then, stay a little later as well. So, our volunteers are giving a wonderful gift of their time to be able to accommodate more visitors than we really thought would come.” Rob Chappell said.
Off duty officers and volunteers are directing the seemingly never-ending flow of cars. The cliché phrase “pack your patience” comes to mind if you’re planning to visit, but it’s Christmas time, and it’s been a year like no other! They’re asking you to enjoy the fairy lights on these cold winter nights. “All the relationships with the neighbors, with the community, those are all so precious to us. We hope everyone feels welcomed. We're doing our best to make it a positive experience and we just feel God's love for all of you and hope you feel it as well,” Jan Chappell said.
The Festival of Lights runs through the December 28, 2020 and it’s free and open to anyone.