The Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club will host the Eighth Annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights November 29 to December 31, 2019 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 to support the event and its nonprofit volunteers, 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. More information and a nightly calendar of events can be found at www.kiwanisholidaylights.com.
The event will kick-off on Friday, November 29 at 6 p.m. with a Parade along Mound Ave., presented by Girl Scouts Mankato Area Service Unit. Inside Sibley Park, Santa will wrap up the parade and flip the switch to turn on the lighted displays and trees 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 some exciting new additions:
• Watch as the 60-foot colorful center tree sparkles every 15 minutes as 2,100 white strobe lights flash in the night sky!
• Have your picture taken with the Explore Minnesota #onlyinmn monument
• For the first time a “Text to Donate” option will be available by texting katolights to 44321
• Watch live ice carving Dec. 20-21 as a festive Holiday Train is created by skillful ice sculptors
• Join your family and friends in the Giving Barn to have your picture taken with festive holiday face cutout scenes
• Drop your letters to Santa in the mailbox by Santa’s House. He’ll write you back!
• Check out the additional displays honoring our veterans and those serving our country
Other Kiwanis Holiday Lights traditions include:
• Free visits with Santa Friday-Sunday nights through Sunday, Dec. 22
• Ice skating at the Mary Dotson Skating Rink and warming house (bring your own skates)
• Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides for $5 per person on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights starting Dec. 6
• Four live reindeer will be in the farm area throughout the event
• A lighted computer-animated driving and walking tunnel
• “Dancing lights” displays computer programmed to holiday music
“The continued generosity of local businesses and individuals has allowed us to continue to put on this FREE event for all to see,” said Scott Wojcik, President of Kiwanis Holiday Lights. “A special thank you goes out to all of the volunteers who put in the time to make this a great holiday tradition now in our eighth year.”
This year, 70 businesses are participating as cash or in-kind supporters of the event and 68 non-profit organizations will be providing over 12,000 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 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 seven years of Kiwanis Holiday Lights:
• The event has been 100% volunteer managed and operated.
• Over 1 million people have attended the event.
• 96.7 tons of food has been collected for area food shelves.
• $367,000 has been donated to area nonprofit organizations.
• 74,790 volunteer hours have been provided by 12,485 individuals.
• Over 19,000 children have visited Santa in his workshop.
• Over 100 businesses have been involved as volunteers and sponsors.
Kiwanis Holiday Lights was established in 2012 by members of the Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club. The Kiwanis Holiday Lights mission is “Create a celebration of Holiday Lights for the Greater Mankato Area that builds on past traditions and promotes the communities we serve, while raising non-perishable food donations for those in need.” The free event is held each year in Sibley Park in Mankato, MN. Cash and food donations are accepted each night.