Some 50 volunteers from IBEW Local 48 spent Saturday, Oct. 27, helping set up the temporary power for The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights. The Grotto is a Catholic shrine and botanical garden meant to provide spiritual inspiration.

Local 48 and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) have been involved with the distribution of power for the Festival of Lights since its inception in 1988. That first year the festival ran for just 10 nights with approximately 60,000 lights. It later ramped up to more than 500,000 lights. Last year, the festival switched to LEDs, boosting the light count to more than 1 million. The festival now runs from the day after Thanksgiving through Dec. 30.

The Grotto says its festival is the largest Christmas choral festival in the world. It features nearly 160 indoor holiday concerts performed by school, church, and civic choirs. The festival also has a petting zoo and holiday foods and beverages. More than 55,000 people attend  the walk-through event each year.

The festival runs nightly from 5 to 9:30 p.m. through Dec. 30. General admission is $12 for adults; $11 for seniors 65 and over, and military personnel; $6 for kids ages 3 to 12; and free for children 2 and under. Visitors are encouraged to bring a donation of canned or dry food benefitting Snow-Cap, the East county’s affiliate of the Oregon Food Bank. Parking is free.

The Grotto is located at 8840 NE Skidmore St., Portland. The main entrance is located at NE 85th and Sandy Boulevard.

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