The biggest holiday lights display in the Coulee Region kicked off Friday night. The 22nd year of Rotary Lights in La Crosse is now underway. Only a few final touches had to be completed Friday afternoon. Fox 25/48's Erin O'Brien explains what is new this year at Riverside Park..
"Ordinarily, even right now on opening day we're still scrambling to get some major things done, but because of the good weather, we're all set to go," said Pat Stephens, Rotary Lights President.
The annual parade headed down State Street Friday evening, featuring dozens of well-lit entries making their way to Riverside Park. And as always, Santa Claus had the honor of counting down to officially flip the switch to start the fireworks and turn on 3.5 million lights.
But besides the traditions of Rotary Lights spanning two decades, there are many new attractions too.
The new animated tree at the entrance to the park, Santa's Kiddie Express train, and a light-up walk-through tunnel, to name a few. And one of the most anticipated additions this year: the ice skating rink. It doesn't have any water in it yet. Organizers say they plan to wait one or two more weeks until the weather gets a little bit colder..
The entire lights display is all set up by volunteers.
"There you go with the La Crosse community again," Stephens said. "We turn down a number of organizations because there just aren't enough jobs for everybody out there."
And at the heart of Rotary Lights is its mission to feed the hungry. Donations went to the Salvation Army of La Crosse on Friday night, and each night they'll go to a different local food pantry.
In La Crosse, Erin O'Brien, Fox 25/48 News at Nine.
The Rotary Lights run every day through December 31st, including Christmas and Christmas Eve.