The Eastern Oregon Festival of Lights needs your help.

Saturday, the holiday nonprofit festival kicked off its first work party at the Umatilla County Fairgrounds, but organizers still need help hauling large light displays from storage to places where other volunteers can work on them.

“We’ve got a lot done so far, but we have a lot to do with the big displays and no way we can do them without people,” FOL committee member Joanna Hayden said Saturday. “The big displays need to be put on trailers and brought over to the small animal barn. Right now, we need trailers and people that can lift.”

With metal frames, wiring and lights, some of the display pieces weigh 40 or 50 lbs on long, unusual shapes, such as reindeer, a train engine and a skating polar bear. All of the pieces must be carefully moved and the committee is looking for any individual volunteers or work groups — such as clubs, churches, scouts — to help move the equipment. Once the equipment is moved, other volunteers can replace light bulbs, test light strips, organize wreaths, set benches and, eventually, install light displays, trees and decorations around the fairgrounds.

Committee members will conduct work parties from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday until the event. Marian Baker was one of the volunteers at the first party.

“I felt it was time to help out. I enjoy the lights, I enjoy the fairgrounds, so I thought I’d help out,” Baker said. “If someone likes to do puzzles, unwinding these (lights) is like doing a puzzle. I enjoy it.”

The Festival of Lights is scheduled to begin its 13th season with the lighted parade Nov. 23. The event will run every weekend from Nov. 23 until Dec. 23. There is no cost to enter the Festival of Lights, but donations are accepted at the gate and inside the bazaar in Thompson Hall.

Drive-through nights will be open, on donation, on Thursdays from Nov. 28 until Dec. 20.

“We have over a million lights when they’re all up,” Hayden said. “This is a tradition in Hermiston. We want to see it continue, but we need help.”

Monetary donations are also being accepted, and the event is run as a nonprofit organization, so donations are tax deductible. Festival of Lights costs about $12,000 each year.

To volunteer, or for more information, contact Joanna Hayden at (541) 561-3056.

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