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Saturday May 30th, 2015 8:40AM

Lanier Islands ready for Magical Nights; Jingle Mingle set for downtown Gainesville

By Staff
BUFORD - Lake Lanier Islands will flip the proverbial switch on the 20th Annual Magical Nights of Lights Friday, while in downtown Gainesville Thursday night, the magic of Christmas will come alive.

Initially created by State of Georgia and the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority, the holiday-themed driving tour of lights first debuted on November 20, 1993. That first night, only 76 vehicles passed through the gates of the South Hall resort. There were about 40 animated light displays along the circuit, and a large tent where Santa Claus awaited.

Over the last two decades, the show has steadily grown in size, scope and popularity. Over the past few seasons, Magical Nights of Lights has drawn an estimated 200,000-250,000 people.

This year's event will pay homage to some traditional favorites while introducing a few new additions.

"It means a great deal to my family that Lake Lanier Islands Resort holds such a special place in the hearts and holiday traditions of so many people throughout the Southeast," said Mike Williams, CEO of Lake Lanier Islands Resort and member of the Williams family, who purchased the lease rights to the Resort in 2005.

Meanwhile, in downtown Gainesville Thursday night, the annual Jingle Mingle will take place from 5:00-8:00. (See earlier story.)
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