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

Ice Carvers to Create “Sibley Park Ice Dragon” Dec. 15-17

dragon-ice-carving-design-for-webLive ice sculpting will be featured for the second year at Kiwanis Holiday Lights this week.  Adam Scholljegerdes and Joe Christenson, who have created winning sculptures at the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Waseca’s Sleigh and Cutter Days and other area contests, have been engaged to create a lighted “Sibley Park Ice Dragon” sculpture in the farm area at Sibley Park.

“It was great to bring ice sculpting to our event last year and we’re thrilled to bring back Adam and Joe to creae another sculpture this year,” said Scott Wojcik, President of Kiwanis Holiday Lights.  “The warm weather last year caused the sculpture to melt and break pretty quickly, but this year our cooler temperatures will be perfect for ice sculpting,” he said.  “The sculpture will be located in the Sibley Park farm area near Santa’s house and can only be viewed on foot.  “So bundle up and come out to watch the dragon come to life.”