Detour doesn't lead away from light show
Posted November 24, 2007
Updated November 18, 2008
Benson, N.C. — A bridge construction project added some miles to the trip to the Meadow Lights display, but the detour hasn't led people away from the huge holiday attraction in Johnston County.
Light show creator Roy Johnson plugged in the Meadow Lights on 20 acres off N.C. Highway 96 the day after Thanksgiving and expects around 100,000 people to come view the lights.
This year, visitors will have to negotiate a 2.7-mile detour from N.C. 96. The state Department of Transportation decided to speed up building a new two-lane bridge over Little Swamp creek. Construction will likely begin next week.
DOT officials said the project was slated for this spring, but they decided to move it up due the bridge's low safety rating. Fish swim upstream in the creek to breed from mid February until mid June, and construction is not allowed during the spawning season.
The detour will take drivers from N.C. 96 to N.C. Highway 50 and then to Godwin Lake Road, where the Meadow Lights gleam.
"It's not gonna make it that difficult to get here," Johnson said. "We always have lots of people."
The possibility of a detour did not faze visitors on the first night of the light display. Some families came from as close as Clayton, while another said they had traveled up from North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina just to see the lights.
"I've never been here before. ... I recommend everybody come see it," David Brantley, of Rocky Mount, said.
Johnson said he began putting up the lights for his children 33 years ago, and creating the display has become his only hobby. He doesn't know many lights are up, because he keeps expanding the show – but one candle alone has 16,000 bulbs.
"We enjoy it, and it makes a lot of people happy," Johnson said. "I get a lot out of that."
Viewing the light show is free, and a train ride around the display costs $2. Meadow Lights shines seven nights a week, until 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The show will go on until New Year's Eve.