Fifth annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights to Kick-Off November 25

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Mankato, MN – The Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club will host the Fifth Annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights November 25 to December 31, 2016 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 19 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.

The event will kick-off on Friday, November 25 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).

This year’s event will feature over 1.5 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 and attendees are encouraged to bring their skates.  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 Friday and Saturday nights, a lighted computer-animated driving and walking tunnel and 60’ lighted center tree.  Also, this year’s event features several new displays including a turning carousel, lighted train and a “secret” display featuring real fire, which will be unveiled on opening night.

“When we started planning this project I never thought it would be this successful,” said Scott Wojcik, Kiwanis Holiday Lights President.  “Not only has it been successful, but we also continue to grow the number of lights and displays each year to add to the magic and excitement of this holiday tradition,” he said.

Again this year the event will feature live ice sculpting on  the evenings of Dec. 15-17.  Sculptors will create a spectacular “Sibley Park Ice Dragon” which will be on display as long as weather permits.   Sculpting is made possible with 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 through Dec. 23 and each child who visits Santa will receive a free book compliments of Capstone (while supplies last).  Four live reindeer will again be on display throughout the event.  This year 82 businesses are participating as cash or in-kind supporters of the event and 80 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.

For maps, a complete calendar of events and more information, visit www.kiwanisholidaylights.com, “Like” the Kiwanis Holiday Lights Facebook page, email info@kiwanisholidaylights.com or call the Kiwanis Holiday Lights information line at 507-385-9129.

Historical Statistics for first four years of Kiwanis Holiday Lights:

  • Kiwanis Holiday Lights started in 2012 by a group of volunteers from the Mankato Kiwanis Club
  • To date, over 575,000 people have either driven or walked through the displays
  • Over 59 tons of food has been collected to date by food shelves in seven area counties
  • 36,700 volunteer hours have been provided over the past four years
  • To date $180,000 has been donated back to the non-profit organizations the help put on Kiwanis Holiday Lights