LA CROSSE, Wisc. (WLAX/WEUX) – After storm damage caused the La Crosse Rotary Lights to close for the first time in more than 25 years, the display in Riverside Park reopened Friday night.
La Crosse experienced strangely severe weather for December Wednesday night with severe thunderstorms and high winds reaching up to 80 mph, which caused extensive damage to the Christmas light display.
The severe storms that ripped through the Midwest, hitting western Wisconsin and La Crosse on Wednesday night, had a particularly critical effect on the Rotary Lights display. In preparation for the storms the Rotary Lights closed on Wednesday, December 15, marking the first time in the Lights’ 27 year history that the display was ever closed. Through the storm, shelters and displays were torn from the Riverside grounds where the display is held.
Rotary Lights president Pat Stephens estimated the damages to the display to be around $40,000 to $50,000.
The Rotary Lights opens each year following Thanksgiving through December 31. The light display has dazzled La Crosse residents and visitors alike with over 3 million lights on display and attracting nearly 160,000 visitors every holiday season. The Rotary Lights have grown throughout the years and has become a staple in the La Crosse community during the holidays, but it’s future may now be in question.
The Rotary Lights display has continued to be free to attend throughout the years and is a holiday favorite among La Crosse residents.