IN THE NEWS - 2014
La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -Plans for the 2014 Rotary Lights display in Riverside Park are underway, as volunteers will begin setting up some of the display framework next weekend.
This year's display will offer more than 3.5 million LED lights and features several new attractions for visitors.
"It's a much anticipated activity in the community each year," said Pat Stephens, president of Rotary Lights. "I think the community really enjoys it and takes pride it in as well, and everyone knows it does so much good for the less fortunate in our food collections."
New this year will be a holiday train display as well as a gift shop in the Santa House and a new fire display.
"I think its a great family tradition in this area after 20 yeas now we're getting into the second generation if not third generation of families that come through here," said Stephens.
Additionally, Rotary Lights is looking for couples who met, got engaged, or tied the knot at a Rotary Lights display. These couples are invited to a reunion at the Radisson Hotel on December 13, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Rotary Lights is looking for couples to share photos as well as stories at the reunion.
"We do know on average there are two or three weddings a year that happen during the Rotary Lights," said Kelly Cleary, the event planning coordinator for the reunion. "This opportunity for couples is a once in a lifetime thing sort of. Maybe when we reach our 40th year we'll do it again, but probably not until then."
Rotary Lights has collected more than 2.5 million food items since it began in 1995.
The food collected at the display goes to 14 area food pantries to help feed the Coulee Region's less fortunate.
"In 1995, when we started, we collected 13,000 cans," Stephens said. "Last year, with six fewer nights of operation, we collected just over 230,000 food items through the park and a few other drives."
This year visitors will also be able to purchase a DVD of the Rotary Lights, which will be sold in the gift shop. Moreover, copies will be provided to all area military that are deployed, in cooperation with Operation Homefront.
La Crosse Rotary Lights previews new attractions
Organization getting ready for 20th year
Every year the Rotary club puts up millions of Christmas lights in Riverside Park for the public to see. The purpose is to collect food donations for local food pantries.
There are a lot of new things to look forward to this year. The club is putting up a laser display in addition to all the lights. They're also holding a reunion for every couple that has either met or has gotten engaged while at the lights.
And for those true romantics, at the north end of the park there is even a light up heart that shines "Will you marry me?"
“When we know there is going to be an engagement in the park we will walk the potential groom over there and say if you want to use this it can kind of be a nice surprise for you," said said Pat Stephens, of the La Crosse Rotary Club. So at that point you can walk to that part of the park hit the bell and it will light up, will you marry me, and to my knowledge we're batting 100."
The Rotary Lights display will turn on the day after Thanksgiving. In the last 20 years, more than 2.5 million food donations have been collected.
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