The Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club will host the Fourth Annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights November 27 to December 31, 2015 in Mankato’s Sibley Park. Kiwanis Holiday Lights is presented by the Mankato Area Foundation and CHS. The event is free and open to the public, however cash donations will be collected as well as non-perishable items for the 17 area food shelves that will be participating during the event. Guests can drive or walk through the lights display, and warming houses and concessions will be available each evening.
Kiwanis Holiday Lights will feature over 1.3 million LED lights decorating holiday displays, trees, fences and buildings in the Sibley Park Grand Lawn area, as well as the family farm children’s area. The Mary Dotson Skating Rink and warming house will be open each night of the event. Other attractions and activities include Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides presented by CHS for $5 per person on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, musical entertainment by local vocal groups on Saturday nights, a lighted computeranimated driving and walking tunnel and 60’ lighted center tree.
New displays this year include a 30’x45’ “Old Man Winter” display as well as an expanded “Dancing Lights” area which is features a light show synchronized to holiday music. Two ice sculptors will also be creating an “Old Man Winter” ice sculpture Dec. 17-19. The completed ice sculpture will be on display until Dec. 31, weather permitting. This new addition to Kiwanis Holiday Lights is presented by CHS, with additional support from the Twin Rivers Council for the Arts and KMSU Radio, through funding from the Minnesota State Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund, as appropriated by the Minnesota legislature.
Santa will be on-site on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and each child who visits Santa will receive a free book compliments of Coughlan Companies (while supplies last). Four live reindeer will again be on display throughout the event. This year 98 businesses are participating as cash or in-kind supporters of the event and 85 non-profit organizations will be providing over 1,000 volunteer hours as they assist with set-up, tear-down and running the event each night. Each non-profit group will again display a decorated tree devoted to their organization.
“We’re pleased to grow the event each year by adding new displays and features,” said Scott Wojcik, Kiwanis Holiday Lights President. “The weather has been fabulous and has allowed our volunteers to work quickly and add even more lights to the displays.”
The 35-night event will kick off on Friday, November 27 at 6 p.m. with a holiday parade presented by the Mankato Area Derby Girls. Santa will wrap up the parade and flip the switch to turn on Kiwanis Holiday Lights for a spectacular finish. Hours of operation are Sunday-Thursday, 5 – 9 p.m., Friday & Saturday, 5- 10 p.m. (For safety reasons, the park will open to driving traffic at 8 p.m. on opening night). For maps, a complete calendar of events and more information, visit www.kiwanisholidaylights.com, “Like” the Kiwanis Holiday Lights Facebook page, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Kiwanis Holiday Lights information line at 507-385-9129.
Historical Statistics for first three years of Kiwanis Holiday Lights:
- Kiwanis Holiday Lights started in 2012 by a group of volunteers from the Mankato Kiwanis Club
- To date, nearly 400,000 people have either driven or walked through the displays
- Over 42 tons of food has been collected to date by food shelves in seven area counties
- 26,000 volunteer hours have been provided over the past three years
- To date $120,000 has been donated back to the non-profit organizations the help put on Kiwanis Holiday Lights