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Lights of the Northwoods: brightening Rhinelander this Christmas season

Belinda Weddle and Elizabeth Weddle

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Over 50,000 Christmas lights have been set up in Hodag Park this winter and were open to the public starting on December 14th and ending on the 17th.

“It is primarily a food drive for area food pantries with a non-perishable food item or monetary donation at the gate. Participating non-profit groups also hold fundraising activities at the event and keep all of their proceeds for their organization,” stated Shawn Will, the spokesman of the project.

23 years ago a group of Rotarians started an event similar to the Lights of the Northwoods in La Crosse, WI. Since then, light shows have spread to other cities; a few years ago Rhinelander was asked to join. This year they’ve managed to set it up.

“The core committee members have been walking the park and discussing plans since the middle of 2016. Formal organization took place in February of 2017 with election of officers to help organize efforts,” continues Will.

Along with the light displays, there were visits with Santa, caroling by the firepit, and concessions. One of the groups selling concessions was the Rhinelander High School Band.

“We will be selling Christmas cookies, hot beverages, hot dogs, and mac and cheese. The proceeds will benefit the band in many ways: help band students financially for trips, provide dinners for homecoming, and help with purchasing uniform maintenance,” said Connie Piasecki, the director of the band.

The band sold concessions from 5pm to 9pm every day of the light event. Along with the band, fire Department volunteers, the RHS Foreign Travel program, the Oneida County Department of aging, the Lion’s Club, the YMCA, and other groups also sold concessions.

“This is expected to be a long term event with this year being only a preview of what’s to come. It is a glimpse into the future of what we can do together as a community when working alongside each other,” continues Will.

Members of the event hope for more lights to be donated towards the displays and for more activities to be added. However, because it’s an outdoor event, possibilities are limited. Possibilities such as live music.

“Since the event is outside, it is not an event that we will perform at. Playing outside in cold weather can damage instruments and it is also very difficult for the performer to get a good sound on their instrument,” explains Piasecki.

Although the band won’t be able to perform in following years, the continued participation of other organizations will continue to increase, helping the event to grow in the future.

“Each year we plan to increase the display… Lacrosse started with 26,000 lights and now has over 3 million… Probably not going to reach that lofty goal but we want to make it bigger and better each year,” states Will.

Much effort has been put into the light process, and volunteer work will be important in the years to come. As for the 2017 Christmas season, a variety of lights have been kept up, extending the light show.

1 Comment

One Response to “Lights of the Northwoods: brightening Rhinelander this Christmas season”

  1. Jacob Weddle on January 5th, 2018 12:39 pm

    Good job.

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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