Marshall's Wonderland of Lights Festival is a huge money-maker for the city. Since its conception 26 years ago, the Christmas event gets bigger every year drawing more visitors to the East Texas town.
"This is what it started out to be 26 years ago," said Ed Michel, Executive Director of the Marshall Convention and Visitors' Bureau.
When it started, Wonderland was just a few strands of Christmas lights on the courthouse and a few nearby trees.
"It had been a very bad year in 1987. Two of the major industries had closed," said Geraldine Mauthe, Director of Visitors Services.
Mauthe remembers what caused its creation.
"Marshall was sort of blacked out and closed up - especially downtown," said Mauthe.
It's now a spectacle of lights and music that lights of the whole town with holiday cheer.
"It just sort of spread out. Just one block at a time. It grew and grew and grew," said Mauthe.
The city of Marshall is blanketed with millions of lights. It takes a lot of manpower to keep them on and visitors happy.
"We have about 45 to 50 people employed for this event... Our total payroll for the event is about 100 thousand dollars. That's all to residents," said Michel.
That's only the beginning of what this festival does for the local economy according to Michel.
"We were surprised and very happy with our opening numbers of the first five days. They were ahead in terms of revenues this year about 20%," said Michel.
He expects between 150 and 175 thousand people will come see their lights.
"If you just figure what they might spend when they come into community whether they stop at gas station or another restaurant... we're talking in millions of dollars in revenue for community," said Michel.
Mauthe is glad to see her town's wonderland of lights festival fulfilling its mission.
"Renovation and revitalization... through the wonderland is what makes it so special," said Mauthe.
Wonderland of Lights run through December 31st. Click here for a link to Marshall's Convention and Visitor's Bureau's website for all the details on their Wonderland of Lights Festival.