Local parks and recreation departments are encouraging Monadnock Region residents to get lit this holiday season — well, to string up the lights, that is.

The annual Southern N.H. Tour of Lights kicks off next weekend. Started last year, the event is aimed at helping people spread holiday cheer in lieu of many in-person traditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Folks in participating towns have until Monday to sign up their home for the tour.

Eleven departments — Amherst, Antrim, Fitzwilliam, Jaffrey, Keene, Merrimack, Milford, Peterborough, Rindge, Swanzey and Troy — are involved this year, according to the event’s flier. This is the first time Keene and Troy are joining in.

The tour, which runs from Dec. 11 to 27, will not have a full list of participants until the deadline passes, according to Milford Parks and Recreation Director Arene Berry. Last year, the event garnered 141 homes.

The departments take turns each year spearheading the event, with Peterborough at the reins in 2020. Milford took over the efforts this year.

Winners — selected in each community based on residents’ votes — will receive a gift card from a local business, the flier says.

In Keene, 24 residents have signed up so far, according to Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Andy Bohannon.

“It seems like a fun thing to do,” he said on Keene’s joining the tour, “for all the rec departments to have this one annual event they participate in.”

Residents who are interested in joining can fill out a form through their local department’s website or by calling the department directly.

Bohannon noted that participants’ names will remain private, but the addresses will be publicized to create a list of all the homes.

The lists will be available on department websites starting Dec. 10, and people can start voting online the following day, according to Bohannon.

To kick off the first day, the Keene Recreation Center will offer popcorn, candy canes and hot chocolate on Dec. 11 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for residents to take with them on their self-guided tours.

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.

Olivia Belanger is the health reporter for The Sentinel, covering issues from the opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic to mental health services in the region. A N.H. native, she joined The Sentinel team in August 2019.