This past weekend was the opening of the Carmi Christmas Lights of Hope, and even in the rain and wind, the Carmi Christmas Elves Inc. put together a remarkable new tradition for Carmi.

In just their first weekend, the Carmi Christmas Elves Inc. were able to raise $3,213. That donation will be going towards providing weekend meals for kids that need them.

511 vehicles drove through the new attraction to take in the wonder of almost 100 different light displays at the fairgrounds. "it was a lot more than I expected, I thought we would be lucky to get 30 displays but wow, the businesses and people in our community truly came together to support our mission and I can’t thank them enough," exclaimed Lance Yearby, who is the President of the Carmi Christmas Elves Inc.

DiMaggio’s Pizza, Whitsitt Farms, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Expressway Ford, Vibracoustic and a tremendous amount of other sponsors helped the Carmi Christmas Elves Inc. raise $68,893 to purchase the light displays, insurance and any other expenses.

The Carmi Christmas Elves Inc. organization is a group of citizens who want to make a difference. This non-profit organization's mission continues to be providing support, both financial and otherwise, to local youth and poverty-stricken residents through events such as Christmas Lights of Hope.

When asked if he would change anything for next year's Christmas Lights of Hope, Yearby stated, “Well, I would love to be able to add more road in terms of length at the fairgrounds so we can never run out of space for this. In seriousness, we are lucky the fair board agreed to let us have it there. The City, County and the Carmi Township all pitched in and helped fix the road around the fairgrounds. I can not thank the boards enough. It truly has been a community effort to make this a success.”

Yearby also thanked his board members for their dedication and faith in the mission of the Carmi Christmas Elves Inc.

Christmas Lights of Hope will be opened every Friday and Saturday evening through December 21 and then remain on through the evening of Christmas Night.

“The Carmi Christmas Elves have more ideas for our community in the years to come to help our mission grow. It might not even be Christmas themed!”