Rotary Lights adds four new light displays to 2013 show - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Rotary Lights adds four new light displays to 2013 show

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LA CROSSE, WI (WXOW)—Rotary Lights will open gates on Thanksgiving with four new light displays at Riverside Park.

Last year they added Santa's house, this year children will get to watch a toy train while they wait to see him.

"John Corems," Pat Stephens, President of Rotary Lights said.  "Came down most of April, May and June to get it ready for this fall. It's his from start to finish. He built the entire thing."

And he didn't leave anything out; it has a carousel and fire station that play music at the touch of a button.

"It says push the button once," Stephens said.  "But something tells me it will be a little more often than that."

The entrance to the park will also be new this year. Visitors will be welcomed by two 25-foot saluting toy soldiers.

"It's a very inventive group as far as getting things done," Jim Crothers, Steering Committee, Rotary Lights said. "The equipment, everyone is always looking for ways to make improvements and make it easier, faster, smoother and safer."

Jerome Gundersen dreamt up an 11 foot tall globe for world peace.

"He's working with a couple other volunteers that are pretty good with welding," Stephens said.
"Not only will it turn but the lights will be animated."

They are also adding penguins to the display.  Stephens said for years people asked why they didn't have them at the igloo.

But the volunteers put the 2.6 million lights aside when asked about their favorite part.

"I've personally seen over the year, the food collection what a difference it makes for the less fortunate.  So that will always remain a favorite," Stephens said.

"It's not the big SUV you get the big donations from," Crothers said. "It's the car you think you'll have to push out the drive way that gives you a box of food and says wait a minute I have more in the trunk."

Rotary Lights is free but people are asked to bring food or monetary donations.

They hope visitors bring 225,000 food items this year.  Donations help 14 area food pantries.

Display is open Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve:

  • Open Daily 5 to 10 p.m.
  • Christmas Eve 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Christmas Day 5 to 9 p.m.
  • New Year's Eve 5 to 1 a.m. 

Other Rotary Events:

  • Live reindeer pulling Santa in the opening parade on Nov. 29 and in Santa Village until Dec. 23
  • Rotary Lights Holiday Parade through downtown La Crosse Nov. 29 at 5 p.m.
  • Live Nativity Scene Nov. 29, 30 Dec. 1, 6, 7, 13, 14, 15
  • Breakfast with Santa Dec. 14
  • Ugly Sweater Run Dec. 15 at 4 p.m.
  • Ecumenical Service Dec. 24 5:30 p.m.
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