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.

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.

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

 

Fourth Annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights to Feature “Old Man Winter” Theme

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 info@kiwanisholidaylights.com 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

Media Preview Scheduled for November 24

The Kiwanis Holiday Lights Board of Directors will hold a Media Preview on Monday, November 24 at 5:30 p.m. The preview will offer a sneak peek of the 2014 event, which will officially kick-off with a Lighting Ceremony following the Kiwanis Holiday Lights parade that begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 28.

All lights and displays will be turned-on for the Media Preview, which will offer an opportunity for members of the media to take photos and video, ask questions of the Board Members and have a guided walk-through tour. Special emphasis will be placed on providing information on new displays and other additions.

The 2014 season will mark Kiwanis Holiday Lights’ third season in Mankato’s Sibley Park. During the first two years, over $60,000 has been donated to the community non-profits who helped with the event, 30 tons of food has been collected for area food shelves and an estimated 250,000 people have visited the park. The event runs from November 28 to December 31 and is free and open to the public. See attached Fact Sheet for more details or visit www.kiwanisholidaylights.com.

Kiwanis Holiday Lights Facts

Event Hours
Sunday-Thursday 5-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday 5-10 p.m. (Note: The warming houses, including the skating rink warming house, are only open during event hours)

Santa’s Hours
Fridays until Christmas 6-10 p.m. Saturdays until Christmas 5-9 p.m. Sundays until Christmas 5-9 p.m. A free book will be presented to each child visiting Santa, courtesy of the Mankato Area Foundation and The Child’s World book publisher.

Horse-drawn Wagon Rides
$5 per person Available during event hours Friday through Sunday, weather permitting 2

Other Facts 
Since the event started in 2012

  • Over $60,000 has been donated to the community non-profits who helped with the event
  • Thirty tons of food has been collected for area food shelves
  • An estimated ¼ million people have visited the park

New this year

  • Expanded animated “dancing lights” area with the addition of some new songs
  • Four new lighted displays including Santa and his Reindeer, Two Elves throwing Snowballs, a Nativity and a Candy Cane Cottage
  • An elevated walkway has been added so that visitors to get a closer view of the center tree.
  • Purple light strings have been purchased to complement the existing Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow and Green light strings.
  • Dated ornaments and other novelty items will be for sale in the warming house
  • The train trestle at the Woodland Avenue walking entrance has been lighted to provide a safer and brighter entrance for those walking into the park.

Last year

  • Over one million energy-efficient LED lights glowed brightly throughout the event, with electricity costing less than $30 a night!
  • Over 35,000 vehicles drove through the display with an average of 3 people per car. Together with much increased walking traffic over last year, the number of visitors totaled over 150,000 (2012: 100,000)
  • www.kiwanisholidaylights.com received over 28,000 visits  15.3 tons of food was collected by 15 area food shelves (2012: 13 tons)
  • Thirty-five businesses and non-profits entered lighted floats in the parade and many thousands of families turned-out to see the parade and lighting ceremony on the opening night 3
  • Cash sponsorships and in-kind donations of goods and services were provided by nearly 100 area businesses and individuals
  • Thirty five restaurants donated food to help feed the volunteers during the event (2012: 21), as well as during set-up and tear-down
  • Santa took requests in his workshop from little ones Friday-Sunday nights, totaling over 52 hours and four live reindeer were again on display from Thanksgiving until Christmas
  • Nearly 7,000 volunteer hours went into producing the event, with 1,288 volunteers participating
  • $40,000 was donated back to the 72 (2012: 53) non-profits that assisted with set-up, tear-down and evening volunteer help during the event

Info for Drivers and Walkers

  • The park won’t close while you’re in line! Drivers who are in line at the time of closing will still be able to drive-through the displays. At closing time volunteers will take a “last car out” sign to designate where the line ends.
  • The best way to see the lights is by both driving through the displays AND taking time to walk the Candy Cane path! There are several parking spaces along the loop where cars can park and allow their occupants to enter the warming houses or walk the path.
  • Or, come back another time to walk through the park! Parking is also available on-street outside of the park and in the CHS parking lot along Woodland Ave. This year we’ve lit-up the area under the train trestle so that it’s even easier to walk to the park!

2013 Events & Activites

Event Dates and Hours
November 29-December 31, Sunday-Thursday: 5-9 pm, Friday-Saturday: 5-10 pm

Opening Parade – Presented by the Greater Mankato Young Professionals
6 p.m. Friday, November 29 Lighting ceremony immediately after the parade (map attached) *Park opens to driving traffic starting at 8 p.m. on opening night

Cash Donations
Accepted nightly as well as Donations for area Foodshelves

Visit Santa in his Workshop
Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through Dec. 22

Live Reindeer on Display
through Dec. 23

Other Events and Activities

  • Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides presented by CHS, $5 per person Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights
  • Musical Entertainment by local vocal groups on Saturday Nights
  • Ice skating in the Mary Dotson Family Rink – rink and warming house open nightly
  • Lighted computer-animated walking tunnel

Kiwanis Holiday Lights to Kick-Off Nov. 29 in Mankato’s Sibley Park

The Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club will host the Second Annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights November 29 to December 31, 2013 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. Non-perishable items for area food shelves will be collected as well as cash donations. Guests can drive or walk through the lights display, and warming houses and concessions will be available.

Kiwanis Holiday Lights will feature over one million LED lights decorating trees, fences and buildings in the Sibley Park Grand Lawn area, as well as the family farm children’s area. New this year will be the Mary Dotson Skating Rink, which will feature synthetic ice, enabling skaters to enjoy the rink regardless of the weather. Other new attractions and activities include Horse-Drawn Carriage 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 computer-animated walking tunnel and 60’ lighted center tree.

Santa will be on-site on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, and live reindeer will be on display for the duration of the event. A section of the lights will be choreographed to holiday music and each nonprofit involved in helping with the event will have a decorated tree devoted to their organization.

“Last year we were thrilled to have over 100,000 visitors. This year we’re planning to further expand the event by adding more lights and lighted displays,” said Scott Wojcik, Kiwanis Holiday Lights President.

The 33-night event will kick off on Friday, November 29 at 6 p.m. with a holiday parade featuring illuminated parade floats. 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. (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 info@kiwanisholidaylights.com or call the Kiwanis Holiday Lights information line at 507-385-9129.