It didn’t matter much to Mankato-area folks that Christmas had come and gone by Saturday night. Hundreds still flocked to Sibley Park, sloshing through melted snow from the day’s 41-degree high.
“Perfect weather,” a dad of three girls yelled as they entered the park, all holding hands.
With the arrival of frigid arctic air, Sunday night was a different story — much less foot traffic, but still a steady stream of vehicles pulling through the park to get a good look at the Kiwanis Holiday Lights display before they’re gone for the season after New Year’s Eve.
Scott Wojcik, Kiwanis Holiday Lights president, said attendance has been strong overall this year. Even with the intermittent cold snaps, attendance and donations are up, although exact figures aren’t ready yet.
“We are very happy with the turnout,” he said.
Barb Johnson visited the park six times this year, she said. The light displays timed to music are her favorite.
“But the best part about visiting the park is that you notice something every time that you hadn’t before,” she said.
With a million tiny lights donning seemingly every surface, Johnson said it’s weird to think in a matter of days they won’t be there anymore.
“Just like last year, ‘Poof, they’re gone,’” she said.
The removal is actually a little bit more complicated than “poof.” Wojcik said about 50 to 100 volunteers will be working each day for three days to take down and spool the lights beginning Wednesday.
“Considering it took us five weekends to set up, it’ll take three days to tear down,” Wojcik said.
Each strand gets tested before they are put away for the season in a warehouse near the Animal Impound in Sibley Park.
Tear down will take place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday; noon to 4 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Sibley.
For information on how to volunteer to tear down, visit www.kiwanisholidaylights.com/volunteers/.