To kick-off the holiday season, The Shops at Riverwoods held its annual Lighting of Riverwoods event on Friday, Nov. 17.
The night began with music and a drumline performance by the Timpview High School band, just before The Shops lit more than 1.5 million lights at 6 p.m.
Once the lights were on, families and individuals enjoyed live entertainment from DJ Garrett, the Truman Brothers, Amy Geis and the Trio los Charros. Participants could also take pictures with Santa and enjoy a variety of life-sized photo ops, shopping deals and fireworks.
Matt and Millie Killpack from Lehi said they came to The Shops at Riverwoods with their family to see Kim Daw’s art exhibit and enjoy the holiday spirit at The Shops.
“It’s just fun to bring our kids to something like this where families are represented,” Matt Killpack said. “And it’s awesome to ring in the Christmas season, being able to just enjoy the lights, the collegiality (and) the friendship among people.”
Event Organizer McKell Law said she believes The Shops at Riverwoods have held some sort of lighting event since they opened in 1998. She also explained the holiday season is The Shops’ “time of the year to shine.” The Lighting of Riverwoods event serves to welcome the holiday spirit, foster family traditions and kick-start their busiest time of year.
To cover event costs and the costs of keeping the lights on from the middle of November to early January, Law said The Shops allot event organizers a specific budget which they work within.
“It’s very thought out and planned and … is an investment for us because we want to highlight our shops and stores and dining, and this is just another way to draw people down here,” Law said.
According to Law, the Lighting of Riverwoods event also helps encourage community participation because everyone involved, from the Timpview High School band to the Truman Brothers, is a part of the Utah County community.
“The lighting has always been an event that’s been put on by our community members … and so that’s been one of our goals, always, to keep it as an event for the community put on by the community,” Law said.
In addition to bringing the community together, this year’s Lighting at Riverwoods event benefited the Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia Foundation, a non-profit patient advocacy foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life for those with ciliary disorders.
“We don’t charge for Santa, we don’t charge for the carriage rides … but if people want to make a donation to the PCD Foundation, they can,” Law said. “There’s just daily challenges that come along with (PCD), and it’s something that you have … your whole life and we have several members of the community who have PCD, … so I think this is our seventh or eighth year bringing awareness (to) this foundation.”
Having performed for the Lighting at Riverwoods event three years in a row, one of the Truman Brothers, Chad Truman, explained he loves this event and continues to return because it is the perfect “spark” for a hopeful and Christ-centered season.
“I love the brightness,” Truman said. “It’s the first, like, hope event because Christmas, to me, is Jesus, and Jesus is hope … Hope that there’s going to be a better day … And this is that first big event … where we can just celebrate.”
Truman also said this year’s event was “extra special” because he and his wife got to bring their little son for the first time to celebrate the start of the holiday season at a “place where families can come.”
Adriana Gutierrez from Nebraska shared she saw the Lighting at Riverwoods event on Instagram and looked forward to seeing the lights and the “beginning of the Navidad culture” during her stay with her two older sisters in Utah.
Gutierrez also said she attended the Lighting at Riverwoods event to support members of the Trio los Charros, who she knew growing up, and added she felt happy seeing her culture represented at the event.
“I feel like we are blessed to start to live in a society where we’re more inclusive,” Gutierrez said. “Being able to see my culture represented in … various parts makes me feel closer to home even if I’m far away.”
In light of the holiday spirit, The Shops at Riverwoods continues to invite families and individuals to visit The Shops and participate in their upcoming Christmas events and activities.