The Trail of Waldensian
By Sheryl Tron
VALDESE — The Waldensian Trail of Faith in Valdese will light up again this year in shining holiday splendor.
The 20th annual Lighting Of The Trail ceremony will take place the Tuesday before Thanksgiving at 6 p.m. at the Trail of Faith.
With more than 100,000 LED bulbs fashioned into favorite Christmas scenes, the Trail of Lights is a Christmas lights display at the Waldensian Trail of Faith.
Founded in 1993, the Trail is an outdoor museum consisting of 11 acres that portrays the history of the Waldensian people back to the time of the Biblical Apostles, according to the Trail of Faith’s website, www.waldensiantrailoffaith.org. Scattered among the property are 15 buildings and monuments that detail the history of each phase in the Waldenses’ journey.
The Trail of Faith tour brings to life the struggles faced by the Waldensian people, pays tribute to their sacrifices and also celebrates their success and triumphs, the website reads. The Waldensian people were considered to be people who lived by the scripture and were “tortured, exiled, and martyred, and still the faith that drove them from the Alpine Valleys of Italy to the foothills of North Carolina survived.” The Trail of Faith is the story of the Waldensian people.
Visitors can look forward to students from Drexel Elementary playing music and singing for a short time before Trail of Faith founder and president, former North Carolina Sen. Jim Jacumin, reads the Christmas Story.
“It’s important for us to share the Christmas story with the kids, because the kids are what this event is really about,” Jacumin said. “Children play an important role in Christmas and it is important for us to pass on what we know.”
As done in years past, three students will be chosen to turn on the lights at the end of the ceremony, marking the traditional lighting of the trail. This year students from Drexel Elementary will be guided by their teacher Margaret Smith, in their performance of all your Christmas favorites!
The Christmas lights display uses more than 100,000 LED bulbs that are fashioned into favorite Christmas-time scenes that keep a steady flow of traffic, generally averaging 30 to 40 vehicles a night to enjoy the lights display, Jacumin said.
“We have visitors that come all the way from Charlotte for our lighting ceremony and to see the Trail of Lights,” said Jacumin. “Each year we have between 7,000 and 8,000 visitors.”
Volunteers at the Trail of Faith, also known as “trail friends,” begin preparation work for the lightning ceremony a month in advance in order to test the lights and set up the Christmas-time scenes. According to Trail of Faith office assistant Sheryl Tron, the event relies entirely on volunteer help and Tron said the ceremony would not be possible without the help of “trail friends.”
Everything at the Trail of Lights relates to the history of the Waldensian people but the most important thing is that the displays are focused
“We love having families bring their children and we want folks to just come and enjoy themselves,” Jacumin said. “The whole event really reminds us what Christmas is about, and that is doing for others and doing something for someone else. It enriches the building blocks of society and it’s a joy to be able to give back — and that’s a big part of the community.”
Visitors of the Christmas lights display are encouraged to stop by the Visitor’s Center where hot chocolate and hot apple cider will be served alongside refreshments.
The Trail of Faith, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)3 funded by donations from guests each year. There is no admission fee to the Christmas lights display but the Trail of Faith will gladly accept donations to help fund December’s utility bill.
The Trail of Lights will be open Nov. 20 through Sunday, Dec. 24 from 6-9 p.m. every night. The Visitor Center will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There will be no lights on Christmas Day but the lights will be on Christmas Eve.
For more information on the Christmas lights display lighting ceremony or the Waldensian Trail of Faith, call the Waldensian Trail of Faith Office at 828-874-1893, visit www.trailoffaith.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Waldensian Trail of Faith is located at 401 Church St., NW in Valdese.