What You Need to Know: 2017 Kiwanis Holiday Lights

(Mankato, MN) – The 6th Annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights opens for the season on Friday, November 24th with a number of new additions this year.

The additions for this year include:

  • A 100-foot driving tunnel—double the 50-foot tunnel of past years.
  • A free coloring book for all kids who visit Santa (while supplies last) on Friday-Sunday nights through Dec. 23.
  • Also this year, kids can sit with Santa in his sleigh.
  • Several new lighted displays including displays from Cate and Dennis Merritt of Faribault.  They have retired their popular private holiday lights display and have donated the displays to the Kiwanis.
  • New holiday songs for the computer-choreographed lights area.
  • More musical groups on Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights in The Giving Barn.
  • An Ice Sculpting Contest on Friday December 15 & 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.

The Kiwanis Holiday Lights 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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

Over the first five years of the event, 740,000 people have attended, 67.9 tons of food has been collected for area food shelves, and $240,000 has been donated to area nonprofit organizations.

For maps, a complete calendar of events and more information, click here or call the Kiwanis Holiday Lights information line at 507-385-9129.

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(Copyright © 2017 Southern Minnesota News – Alpha Media Mankato. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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