Kiwanis Holiday Lights Donates $62,000 to 78 Area Nonprofits and 2017 Event Statistics

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The Kiwanis Holiday Lights Board of Directors is pleased to announce $62,000 will be donated to the 78 non-profit organizations that assisted with the event this past year. “Although we had several rainy nights as well as some bitterly cold weather, that did not deter visitors from coming to the park and seeing the lights, said Scott Wojcik, Kiwanis Holiday Lights President.” We are happy to announce we will be donating $62,000 back to the 78 area nonprofits that helped us this year. That is our largest amount to date.”

New additions in 2017 included a 100-foot driving tunnel—double the 50’ tunnel of past years; an Ice Sculpting Contest; new songs were programmed in the “dancing lights” area; and a custom-created coloring book that was given to all children who visited Santa. In addition, several new lighted displays were donated by Kate Aase and Dennis Merritt of Morristown.

 

Additional statistics include:

  • Over 165,000 people attended the free event in 2017.
  • $62,000 will be donated back to the non-profit groups that assisted with set-up, tear-down and evening volunteer help during the event. ($60,000 in 2016, $60,000 in 2015, $50,000 in 2014, $40,000 in 2013 and $30,000 in 2012). Remaining proceeds will go to help offset expenses and to improve the event in future years.
  • 78 non-profit groups participated, providing 12,729 volunteer hours with 2,312 volunteers participating. Funds will be dispersed to the non-profit participants based on a formula that includes volunteer assistance with set-up, tear-down and nightly operations. Participating non-profit groups also received a tree that they could decorate along the walking path.
  • For the fourth year, visitors were encouraged to vote on their favorite non-profit tree this year. Winners were;
      • 1st place – Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society received a $300 prize
      • 2nd Place – Alzheimer’s Association $150 prize
      • 3rd Place – Minnesota Valley Action Council $50 prize
  • Over 4,000 children visited Santa and each received a free Kiwanis Holiday Lights Coloring Book
  • 48 Greater Mankato businesses participated as cash sponsors, showing continued support for the annual event
  • An additional 32 businesses participated as in-kind sponsors
  • 12.87 tons of food was collected by 16 area food shelves
  • The opening night parade was presented by the Mankato Area Derby Girls. The winner of the $500 float contest was Mankato Area Girl Scouts
  • Over 1.5 million energy-efficient LED lights glowed brightly throughout the event, with the electricity costing less than $50 a night!
  • 33 area restaurants donated food to help feed the volunteers during the event, as well as during set-up and tear-down
  • Four live reindeer were again on display for the duration of the event.
  • The opening parade and lighting ceremony for the 2018 Kiwanis Holiday Lights season will be November 23, 2018.

THE IMPACT OF KIWANIS HOLIDAY LIGHTS SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN 2012

83.4 tons of food has been collected for area food shelves

$302,000 has been donated to the non-profits who have provided volunteers

Over 770,000 people have visited the event to date

 

Kiwanis Holiday Lights President Scott Wojcik Receives December “Good People Award” from KEYC-TV

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Here is the transcribed audio from KEYC-TV’s recent news story:

The Kiwanis Holiday Lights has become a tradition of holiday cheer for those across Southern Minnesota.  And Scott Wojcik has been the man behind the holiday magic from the beginning. “This is year six but if you look at it, it’s year eight because it took two years of planning to get us to this point. So it’s six years of being open but eight years of hard dedicated work,” Wojcik says. Dedicated volunteer work that Wojcik says can be quite a commitment.  “I spend quite a bit of hours down here,” he says. But after those countless hours to help set up outside, Wojcik says he’s left with nothing but warm feelings on the inside. “You take a step back and you see the looks on people’s faces and how much fun they’re having down here and it makes it worth it for the amount of time we as a group put into it,” he says.

Since opening back in 2011, the holiday light display has become a bridge to making an even greater impact in the community. “To see how it impacts not only people that come down here but the nonprofit groups we give back to and the food shelves and how they take all of those donations and make the community a better place,” Wojcik says. But Wojcik says his time dedicated to volunteering isn’t just for the holidays. “It’s not only the Kiwanis Holiday Lights, I volunteer all over town whether its MAYBA or Miracle League in North Mankato I’m involved in a lot of other stuff as well,”  he says. Because for Wojcik giving back is simply part of making yourself at home. “Getting that sense that you belong is one thing but when you volunteer and when you give back you truly feel that this is your home and it’s a neat feeling to know that the impact you make on a community when you volunteer as much as we do,” Wojcik says.

Transformer Repairs Complete After Weekend Power Outages at Kiwanis Holiday Lights

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Repairs are complete after a blown transformer caused a power outage at Kiwanis Holiday Lights last Friday and Saturday evenings. On Friday, December 15 a transformer in Mankato’s Sibley Park failed 45 minutes prior to the park’s closing time of 10 p.m. Xcel Energy Crews arrived immediately and worked to repair the transformer and the park opened as usual at 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 16. Unfortunately, the transformer again failed at 8:45 p.m. Both nights volunteers safely escorted visitors out of the park.

After assessing the existing power needs of Sibley Park and Kiwanis Holiday Lights, Xcel Energy installed a much larger, 100kva transformer at Sibley Park on Sunday, replacing an existing 50kva transformer. Kiwanis Holiday Lights was fully operating on Sunday night and based on load tests completed on Sunday by Kiwanis Holiday Lights electricians, no future power problems are foreseen at this time.

“We are truly sorry to all who drove far distances to see the lights this past weekend and were turned away because of the outage,” said Scott Wojcik, president of Kiwanis Holiday Lights. “However, we are thankful for the quick response from Xcel Energy and are confident the power supply to Sibley Park can now handle our current load.”

Kiwanis Holiday Lights continues nightly through December 31.

Ice Carving Contest to be held this Friday and Saturday at Kiwanis Holiday Lights

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For the first time Kiwanis Holiday Lights will feature an ice carving contest, with a $500 prize to go to the creators of the People’s Choice sculpture. The event will be held in the farm area at Sibley Park on Friday, December 15 and Saturday, December 16. Each evening four sculptors will create holiday-themed designs that will be lighted after completion. Observers can text their vote for their favorite design: Snoopy, a Fireplace, the Grinch and an Angel. Live updates of voting will be posted on Kiwanis Holiday Lights’ Twitter account (@kiwanislights) and Facebook page. Carving should be complete by 9 p.m. on Saturday, at which time the award will be presented.

“We’ve had live ice sculpting in the park during the last two years and it’s been really popular,” said Scott Wojcik, Kiwanis Holiday Lights President. “This year we thought it would be fun to host a competition and allow visitors to vote for the winning sculpture.”

Visitors may remember the “Old Man Winter” sculpture in 2015 and “The Sibley Park Ice Dragon” in 2016.

Photos of previous sculptors as well as depictions of the four sculptures that will be created this weekend are attached.

This year’s event features many new displays thanks to Morristown Couple

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Visitors to the sixth year of Kiwanis Holiday Lights will notice many new displays this year thanks to Kate Aase and Dennis Merritt. The couple is well-known for their ever-expanding lighted holiday display at their rural Morristown home. “Christmas decorating has always been a part of my family’s holiday celebration, so when we built our home we installed three, 100 amp services around our property so that we could create our own display for our neighbors to enjoy,” said Kate.   Over the past 16 years thousands of local residents have enjoyed visiting their property to see their creative displays.

This fall Kate and Dennis contacted leaders at Kiwanis Holiday Lights to inquire if they were interested in receiving their displays. The couple has plans to build a new house and the location isn’t conducive to large crowds. Scott Wojcik, Kiwanis Holiday Lights president was eager to accept their generous donation. “Kate and Dennis’ displays are perfect for Kiwanis Holiday Lights. They’re large and many of them are animated,” he said. “Because of the complexity of the displays, Kate and Dennis offered to help volunteers set them up this fall,” said Wojcik. “They’ve spent many days with us making sure everything is assembled and mounted in the park.”

Some of the donated displays that visitors will see this year include several animated designs featuring Santa in a hot-air balloon, flying an airplane, in a helicopter and riding a motorcycle. The first display that visitors will see as they enter the park was also a gift from Kate and Dennis; an animated scene of Mrs. Claus shooting lights on a tree with a candy cane gun. There are also many lighted reindeer throughout the park that were part of Kate and Dennis’ collection as well as a pair saluting soldiers near “Salute to the Troops” area that Kate and Dennis added to their display after 9/11.   The couple also mentioned they have more displays that may be coming to Kiwanis Holiday Lights in the future.

Free custom-created coloring book for kids who visit Santa this year!

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All kids who visit Santa at Kiwanis Holiday Lights this year will be presented with a free, custom-created coloring book.  The book tells the story of Kiwanis Holiday Lights and includes scenes from the event’s set-up and tear-down phases as well as pages showing popular displays, some of which include the center tree, driving tunnel, parade floats and live reindeer.  The book also includes a word-find activity.

“We thought families would enjoy remembering their experience at Kiwanis Holiday Lights by bringing home a coloring book that also told the story of the event–from set-up to tear-down,” said Shannon Gullickson, Marketing Co-Chair.  “We are also fortunate to have worked with local caricature artist Casey Christensen,” said Gullickson.  “I gave him some ideas and pictures to work from and he created some amazing designs and characters — including the ‘Sibley Park Squirrel,’ which can be found hiding on each page.”  (See attached photos).  Books are available to all kids who visit Santa while supplies last.  Santa is available in his workshop for free visits Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 5-9 pm through December 23.  Visitors are welcome to take photos of their children with Santa (there is no professional photographer at the event.)

 The sixth Annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights will be held through December 31, 2017 in Mankato’s Sibley Park.  Hours of operation are Sunday-Thursday, 5 – 9 p.m., Friday & Saturday, 5-10 p.m.

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 16 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.

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Sixth Annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights Parade to be held Friday, November 24

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Kiwanis Holiday Lights will kick-off this Friday, November 24 at 6 p.m. with a holiday parade presented by the Mankato Area Derby Girls. The parade will begin at the intersection of Rogers and Mound Ave., and will proceed into the park and will end near the concessions area/warming house inside of the park. Spectators are encouraged to arrive early, dress warmly and bring chairs and blankets. All parade entries will be lighted and represent the sponsors and nonprofit groups that provide funding and volunteers for the event. Santa will wrap up the parade and flip the switch to turn on Kiwanis Holiday Lights for a spectacular finish. A parade map and parking information can be found at www.kiwanisholidaylights.com.

The sixth Annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights will be held November 24 to December 31, 2017 in Mankato’s Sibley Park. 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).

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 16 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.

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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.

Sixth Season of Kiwanis Holiday Lights Starts November 24

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Mankato, MN – The Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club will host the Sixth Annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights November 24 to December 31, 2017 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 16 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 24 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 some exciting additions including:

  • A 100-foot driving tunnel—double the 50’ tunnel of past years.
  • An Ice Sculpting Contest will be held for the first time on Friday, December 15 and Saturday, December 16. Four sculptors will compete for a “People’s Choice Award” that will be presented upon completion of the sculptures on Dec. 16. 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.
  • A Kiwanis Holiday Lights custom-created coloring book will be given to all children who visit Santa (while supplies last) on Friday-Sunday nights through Dec. 23. Also this year, kids will be able to sit with Santa in his sleigh when they visit him!
  • Several new lighted displays will be featured including displays from Cate and Dennis Merritt of Faribault. They have retired their popular private holiday lights display and have donated the displays to Kiwanis Holiday Lights.
  • New holiday songs have been programmed for the computer-choreographed lights area.
  • More musical entertainment groups will be featured on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in The Giving Barn, located near the playground.

As in past years, 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 for $5 per person on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, live reindeer, a lighted computer-animated walking tunnel and 60’ lighted center tree.

“It hard to believe we’re already beginning our sixth year,” said Scott Wojcik, Kiwanis Holiday Lights President. “Thanks to the continued support of our sponsors and volunteer organizations we’ve been able to grow the number of lights, displays and special attractions every year,” he said.

Santa will be on-site on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings through Dec. 23 and each child who visits Santa will receive a free Kiwanis Holiday Lights Coloring Book (while supplies last). 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 nearly 80 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 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.

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Historical Statistics for first five years of Kiwanis Holiday Lights:

  • The event has been 100% volunteer managed and operated.
  • 740,000 people have attended the event.
  • 67.9 tons of food has been collected for area food shelves.
  • $240,000 has been donated to area nonprofit organizations.
  • 48,789 volunteer hours have been provided by 7,665 individuals.
  • Over 15,000 children have visited Santa in his workshop.
  • Over 100 businesses have been involved as volunteers and sponsors.

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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.

Kiwanis Holiday Lights chosen to Represent MN-Dak District in International Contest

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Kiwanis Holiday Lights chosen to represent Kiwanis Minnesota-Dakotas District in International Signature Project Contest

Kiwanis Holiday Lights, a Signature Project of the Mankato Kiwanis Club, has been selected by the Kiwanis Minnesota-Dakotas District to represent the district in the 2017 Kiwanis International Signature Project Recognition Program and Contest. The Minnesota-Dakotas Signature Project submission will be considered for recognition with other submissions from a total of 53 districts worldwide. The Minnesota-Dakotas District of Kiwanis International has over 4,000 members that are part of 150 clubs across Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota as well as Superior Wisconsin.

Signature Project awards will be presented at the 2017 Kiwanis International Convention in Paris, France this July. The top 10 finalists will be acknowledged at the convention and the top three (Gold, Silver and Bronze) will be recognized during a special awards luncheon at the convention.

By definition, a signature project is a service project, fundraiser or event that includes the following: Takes place annually or is recurring; enhances the Kiwanis brand; demonstrates significant impact on the community in terms of funds raised or children served and strengthens membership and partnership opportunities.

Kiwanis Holiday Lights is a project of the Mankato Kiwanis Club and 2017 will mark its sixth season. The annual event is presented by CHS and the Mankato Area Foundation. It is a free, nightly event celebrating the holiday season from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. Visitors can walk or drive through lighted holiday displays featuring over 1.3 million colored LED lights and holiday-themed displays. Free-will donations are collected to help with event expenses and are also distributed to the nonprofit organizations who volunteer to help with the event. Nonperishable food items are also accepted each night of the event benefitting area food shelves.

Over the past five years over 600,000 people have attended Kiwanis Holiday Lights, 70.5 tons of food has been collected for area food shelves and $240,000 has been donated the nonprofit organizations that have provided volunteers.

About Kiwanis International:

Kiwanis is a global organization of member-volunteers who are dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time. There are more than 300,000 Kiwanis members in more than 70 nations across the globe.

About the Mankato Kiwanis Club:

The Mankato Kiwanis Club was established in 1921 and meets at 12:05 pm each Monday at the City Center Hotel. There are approximately 120 club members who are involved in local service projects and events including: Kiwanis Holiday Lights, Thunder of Drums, Kiwanis Reading Oasis, highway clean-up and an annual Pancake Breakfast. The club presents several youth scholarships and awards throughout the year and also owns and operates Camp Patterson on Lake Washington. In addition, the Mankato Kiwanis Club sponsors youth clubs including: a Builders Club at Dakota Meadows and Prairie Winds Middle Schools, a Key Club at Loyola, Mankato West, Mankato East and Kato Charter High Schools, a Circle K Club at Minnesota State University, Mankato and an Aktion Club for individuals who live with a disability.

More information can be found at www.mankatokiwanis.org and www.kiwanisholidaylights.com.

Kiwanis Holiday Lights Announces 2016 Statistics

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IMG_3047 (2)IMG_3047 (2)The Kiwanis Holiday Lights Board of Directors is pleased to announce $60,000 will again be donated to the 84 non-profit organizations that assisted with the event this past year.  “Although attendance and donations were down this year due to several rainy nights as well as some bitterly cold weather, we’re able to again donate $60,000 to the nonprofits that helped us this year,” said Scott Wojcik, Kiwanis Holiday Lights president.  “We’ve really worked hard to manage our finances in order to plan for years when traffic is down due to weather.  That’s helped us make sure we can still give back a substantial amount to the groups that help us out,” he said.

New additions were a rotating merry-go-round display, a hot air balloon featuring a life flame, additional songs in the “dancing lights” area and a three-night live ice sculpting event that culminated with the creation of a lighted sculpture of “The Sibley Park Ice Dragon.” As has been typical of the growth of the event each year, even more lighted trees were added to the event.

The event was completely volunteer-driven and lasted 37 nights, or a total of 165+ hours of operation.

Additional statistics include:

  • Over 165,000 people attended the free event in 2016. (Mild weather helped account for 180,000 visitors in 2015).
  • $60,000 will be donated back to the non-profit groups that assisted with set-up, tear-down and evening volunteer help during the event. ($60,000 in 2015, $50,000 in 2014, $40,000 in 2013 and $30,000 in 2012).  Remaining proceeds will go to help offset expenses and to improve the event in future years.
  • 84 non-profit groups participated, providing 12,089 volunteer hours with 1,735 volunteers participating. Funds will be dispersed to the non-profit participants based on a formula that includes volunteer assistance with set-up, tear-down and nightly operations.  Participating non-profit groups also received a tree that they could decorate along the walking path.
  • For the third year, visitors were encouraged to vote on their favorite non-profit tree this year. Winners were;
    • 1st place – Open Door Health Center received a $300 prize
    • 2nd Place – BENCHS received a $150 prize
    • 3rd Place – One Bright Star received a $50 prize
  • Over 4,500 children visited Santa and each received a free book courtesy of Capstone
  • 51 Greater Mankato businesses participated as cash sponsors, showing continued support for the annual event
  • An additional 35 businesses participated as in-kind sponsors
  • 5 tons of food was collected by 20 area food shelves
  • The opening night parade was presented by the Mankato Area Derby Girls. The winner of the $500 float contest was Anthony Ford Fund.
  • Over 1.35 million energy-efficient LED lights glowed brightly throughout the event, with the electricity costing less than $50 a night!
  • Thirty-one area restaurants donated food to help feed the volunteers during the event, as well as during set-up and tear-down
  • Four live reindeer were again on display for the duration of the event.
  • The opening parade and lighting ceremony for the 2017 Kiwanis Holiday Lights season will be November 24, 2017.

5-YEAR TOTALS FOR KIWANIS HOLIDAY LIGHTS

70.5 tons of food has been collected for area food shelves

$240,000 has been donated to the non-profits who have provided volunteers

Over 600,000 people have visited the event to date