EAST PEORIA -- The Festival of Lights is a nearly 30 year tradition for East Peoria. This year, there is an earlier deadline, and a lack of volunteers, that is putting the parade at risk.
It takes more than a million tiny lights for the East Peoria Festival of Lights floats to glow.
Parade coordinator John Broshears is working 60 hours a week to get them ready. He said, "Truthfully, volunteer outlook is not very good... it's unfortunate."
In fact, only a few are helping because they want to. Broshears said, "In the building right now, I hate to say it, I only have maybe three... the rest are community service."
Broshears is under pressure. He's cleaning the floats, testing lights and fixing the old vehicles that carry them. But the public is eagerly awaiting the annual November tradition... One that welcomes in the holiday season.
There's 65,000 lights on the Steam Train float, that means volunteers are checking more than 1,300 strands to make sure they're ready to go for the parade.
28-year volunteer Wally Jaquet is the man who designed every float. He said checking the lights is the most time consuming part. "This year we re-lit the batmobile... we took all the lights off and put new ones on it. That was a major project."
He spends three days a week working as Broshears right hand man. He said, "Right now I'm working on a control for the little train. It doesn't seem to be working right and John says fix it, so i'm trying to fix it!"
But both men are hoping they'll get a little help, and the parade will go as planned.
Broshears said, "When the parade goes from point A to point B and there's no breakdowns, that's what will make me happy."
The parade will take place on Sat., Nov. 17. It still needs a volunteer welder and electrician to help fix up some of the floats before then.
If you are interested in helping, you can stop in the Festival of Lights Building on East Washington Street in East Peoria or call 698-6511 or 698-4715.