There’s no better evidence of a homeowner’s true Yuletide devotion during the holidays than a house decked with twinkling lights. And perhaps an inflatable Santa Claus.

The hanging of holiday lights is an altruistic gesture — a gift to passers-by.

On Saturday, the York Parks and Recreation Department is giving that bright gift to the entire town during the annual Lighting of the Nubble event.

Rather than limiting the strings of white bulbs to a residential home on a quiet York street, the department is dressing up Cape Neddick Light (also known as Nubble Light), the adjacent lightkeeper’s house and a couple of outbuildings.

Automated in 1987, the island lighthouse and grounds just off the York coast aren’t accessible to the public. But the view from Sohier Park is an impressive one, whether on a sunlit afternoon or after the lights go on and the bright outline of the lighthouse is seen against the backdrop of a dark winter’s night.

The York Parks and Recreation Department has been lighting the Nubble for more than 15 years, according to Robin Cogger, the department’s special events coordinator.

The event draws a crowd of locals and out-of-towners every year. Some come for the lights, some for the live holiday music and some for the cups of hot chocolate. Even Santa himself drops by, with the help of the York Beach Fire Department.

“It’s a way to really give back to the community and celebrate the Nubble,” said Cogger, noting that all the festivities are free, including the hot beverages and cookies prepared by volunteers.

Festivities begin at 5 p.m. in York’s Sohier Park with live entertainment by the York High School Chamber Singers. The Bow Tie Guys and The Coastal Capers will also take the stage with traditional holiday music and sing-along carols.

The holiday revelry and hot cocoa will help keep folks warm as they wait for the official lighting countdown. But before the “on” switch can be flipped, the big man in red is expected to make an appearance.

“You can’t forget about Santa,” said Cogger. “He usually brings candy canes for the kiddos and the kiddos at heart. If it’s a good night, he’ll take the time for photo ops.”

Then the crowd can help count down the seconds before the lights go bright on Nubble Light.

As an added bonus — if the weather is accommodating — the United Divers of New Hampshire will even raise a lighted tree from the ocean. While not an official part of the evening’s events, Cogger says it’s quickly become a tradition that people look forward to.

Should bad weather arrive, Cogger says the lighting will go on.

“In all the years I’ve been here we only ever had to cancel it once,” she said, and that was because the power had been knocked out. “We do our very best to pull it off. Our motto is ‘Rain, shine, sleet, snow, wind, we’re there.’“

Attendees should plan to dress warmly. A free shuttle service from nearby Ellis Park at Short Sands Beach will run from 3:30 to 7 p.m., as parking at Sohier Park is extremely limited.

The spectacle is enough to delight the holiday-minded of any age. And Cogger hopes that the event brings people together simply to appreciate the Nubble, the season and the town.

“(We) absolutely, positively want this to be an evening of people coming to enjoy and be part of the community,” she said.

Folks who aren’t able to attend the lighting won’t entirely miss out. The lights remain lit throughout the holiday season, a gift that keeps on giving until Jan. 1.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

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