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Traffic discussed for annual Festival of Lights

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

With record-high temperatures soaring into the mid-90s the first week of October, it was hard to think about Christmas being less than three months away. But that’s the case, and plans are progressing for the annual Tanglewood Festival of Lights, which starts on Nov. 15.

A meeting was held in September at Tanglewood to discuss traffic procedures for the upcoming Festival of Lights and review how things went last year and any changes that might be in the works.

Mayor John Wait and Sgt. Brian Gieger of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office gave an update in a recent Clemmons Village Council meeting.

“I think the goal here is to try and make sure the traffic gets a little better each year,” Wait said. “The last two years, to me, seemed like it has gone much, much better. When I first moved to Clemmons, I did not even attempt to go west of Stadium Drive. It was just impossible.”

Gieger said that no changes are planned for the traffic pattern this year after hoping to add an additional lane going into the park near the steeplechase area.

“They said when it got bidded out, it was more expensive than what they thought, so they’ve postponed that, and hopefully by next year they’ll have that put in,” Gieger said. “But they do plan on having a Santa Claus there this year, so traffic might pick up.”

Jessica Sanders, marketing and events manager for the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department, confirmed that “we will have Santa and Mrs. Claus this year” after not being able to attend last year because of what county officials said were “unforeseen circumstances.”

Sanders said that last year’s attendance was a little over 266,000 visitors, which is slightly above the average of 250,000-plus visitors each year. Wait said that the numbers tend to ebb and flow from year to year depending on a variety of factors, including weather.

Gieger said that part of the reason why traffic might have been better last year was all the road construction being done in the area, including I-40 Business through Winston-Salem and the I-40 bridge over the Yadkin River, keeping some drivers from taking to the highways.

One change that has helped in recent years has been for drivers living in areas bordering Tanglewood, including Tanglewood Farms, Westridge, Old Meadowbrook and Asbury Place, being able to place color-coded placards in the windshields of their vehicles to gain easier access to their neighborhoods.

However, local officials say there still appears to be confusion for some households not being aware of the placard system or how to get them.

Clemmons staff members said that placards are available at Village Hall during regular business hours for those living in the impacted areas, and more information is also available on the Village’s website. Also, all the HOA presidents of these neighborhoods were to be contacted and given placards to distribute in these neighborhoods for those needing one.

This season’s ride through the lights will be open nightly from Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, through Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. with the exception of New Year’s Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 31, when the show closes at 10 p.m.

As usual, there are early events even before the start of the Festival of Lights.

It all begins with the Miles for Meals 5K on Saturday, Nov. 9, followed by the Totally Outstanding Awesome Stroll (TOAST) through Tanglewood on Sunday, Nov. 10, and then Paws in the Park on Monday, Nov. 11, and Tuesday, Nov. 12.

There will also be the Festival of Lights Golf Tournament on Sunday, Nov. 17, and the Running of the Lights on New Year’s Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 31.

Rates are unchanged from last year. Family rates are $15 for cars, vans and trucks; commercial rates for vans, limos and mini-buses are $35; and rates for motorcoaches and buses are $100. Discount rates on Monday and Tuesday nights, Nov. 18-19 and Nov. 25-26, are $5 for family cars, vans and trucks; $15 for commercial vans, limos and mini-buses; and $65 for motorcoaches and buses.