Festival of Lights open after strong winds damage tents - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Festival of Lights still open after strong winds damage tents

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Fast winds swept through the area overnight, and one of the areas that felt it the most was Hutchinson Island.

Up to 41 miles per hour winds damaged several areas across the metro area, including parts of the second annual Festival of Lights set up on Hutchinson Island.

Workers have been out cleaning up and putting back together the tents that toppled over from the extreme winds overnight.

Event organizers tell us they were out here, some at 2 a.m., bringing the animals to shelter and trying to keep the stakes in the ground. 

Luckily there was no damage to any of the lights displays.

While making sure the displays stayed in one piece was important, for Staples Safari Zoo, their number one concern was caring for their exotic animals that are part of the event.

"You've already seen the twisted metal and the torn canvas and all kinds of things," said Brian Staples of Staples Safari Zoo. "We took very proactive measures and made sure that the animals were brought to safety first and then the equipment was second."

The good news; the event will be open tonight.

The plan was to extend the festival this year to turn it into more of a winter carnival, so they put a lot of effort into getting prepared after last night's weather.

"With the challenges that we had with the weather over the last couple of days clearly getting it to the point where it was dry, where it was enjoyable," said Mark Spadoni, President of the Savannah Harbor Foundation. "We have a great night and it looks like it's going to be that way for the next couple of days, so we're hoping we still have a really strong finish, and that people who haven't had a chance to come up and enjoy it the last 4 weeks will come out and finish."

The goal this year is to match the money raised last year for the Savannah Harbor Foundation, which was $25,000.

It is the last weekend for the Festival of Lights, with all proceeds going to the Savannah harbor Foundation.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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