Family’s Rotary Lights Christmas tradition - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Family’s Rotary Lights Christmas tradition


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - It's a holiday tradition for dozens of families to drive down to Riverside Park Christmas night to see the Rotary Lights.

Since the light show first started, Rotary Lights President Pat Stephens made it his holiday tradition to have his family run the park that night.

"The first year we didn't really have any volunteers that were willing to do Christmas day," Stephens said. "It was not as big a project as it is now or as well known at that time. So, we talked it over and said we can still do our family traditions and do the park as well."

It's been a Stephens' family tradition for 18 years.

All 11 years of Kayla Bahr's life.

"I've been doing it pretty much every Christmas and it's just a lot of fun and I always look forward to it," said Bahr. She's one of Stephens' granddaughters.

Christmas day, six of Stephens' 11 grandchildren – all on the nice list – sat under the Christmas tree, knowing they had to wait until Dec. 26 to open Santa's gifts.

"I'm tempted to open all the presents," said 9-year-old Brianne Bahr.

"I'm so excited to open them," chimed in her cousin, 6-year-old Braeden Linse.

"Because the tall ones that we got this year would take a lot of time for us to open," said Moira Linse, Braeden's 3-year-old sister.

But as they zipped up their coats and headed to Riverside Park, they forgot about the present and focused on the lights.

At the park, each family member has a job. Some conduct traffic, others sort food.

Though the lights fade at the end of the night and Santa's presents are waiting at home, one of the biggest gifts this family has is their encompassing spirit of giving.

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