Dove Street Festival at Shelter Cove Towne Centre

By Matt McNab

After four years on hiatus, the "tastefully tacky" Dove Street Festival of Lights officially powered up in its new location Monday.

The new lights festival at Shelter Cove Towne Centre on Hilton Head Island got its unofficial start Dec. 1, and a crowd of about 150 people gathered for the formal opening Monday. Festival co-founder Paul Beckler led the countdown for the flip of the switch that powers 50,000 lights, strung across the center's shops.

Video: Watch the Dove Street Festival of Lights return to life Dec. 8, 2014

The display also included "beach snow" -- a bubble machine that came on with the lights. Beckler quipped that it was "an extra treat from Dove Street."

The festival, which will run nightly through Jan. 4, brought both first-time revelers and those who could reminisce about drives along Dove Street during the display's first incarnation. The original festival ran for 20 years before ending in 2010 because of costly electrical bills incurred by the residents who powered it.

Hilton Head resident Melina Magazzu said she drove through the Festival of Lights on Dove Street more than 10 years ago. The rebooted festival is even more enjoyable, she said, because it lets her children walk through the lights -- and allows her to take lots of photos of them.

Magazzu was at the festival with Tara King and her 10-year-old daughter Lacey, both first-time attendees. Tara King said the location gave the festival a more quaint feel than similar ones they had attended in Charlotte, while Lacey was thrilled with the light display.

"It's very bright and colorful," she said. "It makes the colors pop out in the night."

New Hilton Head mayor David Bennett said he was "pleased and privileged" to be part of the new Festival of Lights, which has raised more than $100,000 for two local charities, The Deep Well Project and Projects for Exceptional People. Bennett said he took his children to Dove Street in 2009 and 2010, before the original festival was put on hold.

Beckler said the festival has a three-year plan at Shelter Cove, but he hopes it will continue beyond then. He said the festival was still looking for entertainment and acts to perform nightly.

Bluffton resident Veronica Hood, who attended the original Dove Street festivals and was dismayed to see them end, had one suggestion.

"I love it, but it's not quite tacky enough yet," she joked.

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