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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Kiwanis Holiday Lights information line at 507-385-9129.
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.
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.