AMSTERDAM - While the Light Up The Sky with the Marching Rams event has grown in size over the 12 years it has been conducted, its goals have not changed, Stephanie Boice said.
Boice, the director of the Amsterdam High School Marching Rams, said the drive-through light show serves as a fundraiser, and helps members of the Marching Rams give back to the community.
"The event has grown, but the goals have not changed," she said.
Vehicles pass by colorful lights and
decorations at the Light Up the Sky with the Marching Rams drive-through light show in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
The fundraiser started in 1998, when the Marching Rams were in Atlanta to perform at the Peach Bowl. During the trip, the group passed through Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, which was decorated for the holidays.
Linda Selbert, a chairwoman on Light Up The Sky, was a chaperone on that trip. She said the students were so awed by the display, it gave her the idea to have the group and its booster club put on a light show as a fundraiser.
All the Light Up The Sky events have been based at the boosters' clubhouse, at 154 Brookside Ave.
That first year, Selbert said, the show included a borrowed sled, some plastic reindeer, a borrowed illuminated snowman and a few trees wrapped with lights.
The show - which only lasted a week - had to rely on generators for electricity that first year as well.
"When the lights would dim, someone had to go out and put gas back in the generators," Selbert noted with a laugh.
The light show has changed quite a bit since then.
There are now hundreds of trees and shrubs wrapped with lights, 17 illuminated arches, and more than 350 display pieces.
Selbert said about 14 to 20 members of the booster club work at the show in the evenings. Anywhere from 16 to 25 members of the Marching Rams dress up in costumes for the show every evening. The costumes include Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, toy soldiers and a gingerbread person, she said.
Selbert said it takes a lot of work by members of the Marching Rams, the booster club and other community volunteers to make the show happen every year.
"Lots of love and dedication [from volunteers] goes into this show," she said.
The brilliant display has garnered plenty of attention, even outside of the local area.
Selbert said this year they have had people from Albany, Schenectady, Scotia, Utica and Cooperstown come by.
Part of the draw, Selbert said, is that it is a drive-through family show, and is just $5 per car, as it has been since it started.
"It's more of a production than just a light show," she said.
Deborah Auspelmyer, president of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, said the Light Up The Sky show even draws people from beyond the Capital region. She said to her knowledge, it is a unique event in Montgomery County.
Thanks to its effect on tourism, the organizers of the Light Up The Sky with the Marching Rams will receive the chamber's Barbara V. Spraker Tourism Award at the chamber's awards ceremony at the Riverstone Manor in January.
Boice said the Marching Rams - which includes a band, the Majorettes and a color guard - also will return to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta this year.
"It's kind of a nice way to [remind] students where [the light show] came from," she said.
Selbert said while the show requires a lot of hard work from the members of the marching rams, the booster club and volunteers from the community, it is all worth it.
''We are like a family," she said.
Light Up The Sky with the Marching Rams, which started Dec. 2, runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. every day until Thursday. All proceeds benefit the Marching Rams.
Selbert said the event has raised an average of no less than $12,000 a year.
The event also collects "Toys for Tots" and canned goods for the Catholic Charities food pantry.