The Free Press, Mankato, MN


February 1, 2014

Our View: Kiwanis lights shine bright

Thumbs up once again to organizers, volunteers, donors and visitors of the Kiwanis Lights display in Sibley Park.

Organizers note that visitors increased by 30,000 or 30 percent the second year of the community celebration of the holiday season. The event captured the interest of Twin City televisions stations and allowed some of those metro folks to see a beautiful light display and a beautiful city.

Hundreds of volunteers hosted the 33 nights of the event, sometimes in the bone-chilling cold. But they directed traffic, collected food for food shelves and help make the event a real winner for visitors.

Some 15.3 tons of food was collected for 15 area food shelves, up from 13 tons the first year, a 13 percent increase. Thirty five businesses and other organizations entered floats in the debut parade the day after Thanksgiving. About 100 area businesses also provided cash and in-kind donations and 35 restaurants provided food for volunteers.

About $40,000 will be donated back to the nonprofit groups that provided volunteers for the set up, tear -down and nightly staffing.

While the event had a very successful first year, it appears the second year has been better. There will be even more improvements in 2014. Kudos also to the Downtown Kiwanis Club and its members for providing the leadership, community spirit and enthusiasm to once again bring a stellar light display to the Mankato region for the holidays.

Looking for a bite of the audience

Thumbs up to television’s counter-programmers.

In the universe of television ratings, nothing matches the Super Bowl. One network pulls in the eyeballs while the others wonder if anybody’s watching.

Ten years ago, the cable outlet Animal Planet tried a creative counterprogramming move, opposing the NFL championship game with “Puppy Bowl”: Two hours of rescue puppies cavorting on a fake football field, repeated all day and stuffed with product placement. It was cheap, simple — and surprisingly popular and profitable.

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