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story.lead_photo.caption In this December 2017 photo, Santa Claus prepares to take flight with Rudolf leading the way at the Festival of Lights at Binder Lake. Photo by Marty Beck / News Tribune.

Since it opened earlier this month, nearly 1,000 cars have visited the inaugural Capital City Festival of Lights.

The outdoor, drive-thru light show at Binder Park, 5840 Rainbow Drive, runs 5:30-9 p.m. through Dec. 31 and is closed Mondays.

Volunteer Jeff Buker said the turnout has been better than expected, and he anticipates an increase in cars as Christmas nears.

"It is going excellent, and the response from the folks who have gone through has been phenomenal," he said. "We couldn't be happier with how things are going right now."

The cost is $20 per vehicle, and proceeds will go toward bettering the park and light show each year.

Some of the money will go to local charities Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson City, Homemaker Health Care (HHC Community Outreach) and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Buker said he does not know at this point how much they have raised since opening the outdoor light show.

So far, the top three favorite attractions have been the enchanted forest, Christmas trees synced to music, and a big tree and snowfall scene at the end, he said.

"What people didn't realize is when they watched us set up for the last month, all they were able to see was just the displays," Buker said. "People always come through and tell us, 'I saw you setting up, but I had no idea this was going to make it look like it was snowing,' or, 'I didn't have any idea there would be so many lights in the woods.' So the response has been overwhelmingly excited about the overall display when the lights came on versus what you could see just driving through during the day."

The volunteer group picked Binder Park because they hoped the outdoor light show would encourage people to visit the park during the off-season.

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