For the last 22 years.
La Crosse has celebrated its special tradition of
the Rotary Lights.
It helps kick off the holiday season.
New at ten...
News 8's Sarah Thamer was at the opening night and
joins us now with the story.
The holidays are officialy in full swing as Downtown
La Crosse is looking a little brigher now.
About three-million lights were switched on at the
opening night of the Rotary Lights in Riverside Park
and though it's a long-standing tradition for La Crosse.
some traveled across the world for the enchanting
With the flip of a switch.
It's unlike anything I've ever seen before, it's really
Over 3 million lights were turned on in Downtown La
It's an annual tradition that seems to grow more special
Never would have thought that we would have made it
to year 22 but here we are and the whole project has
become kind of a holiday tradition and an icon for
our area here.
The tradition is known for its unique displays that
light up La Crosse's night sky, but Stephens says
it's the purpose behind the lights that makes the
annual event so important.
Our mission is feeding the hungry of the coulee region
so we'll take care of 14 different food pantries during
this next 37 days of operation and it should collect
enough food to take care of them well into march if
not April, and we're pretty proud of that and the
community has just overwhelmingly responded to helping
with both cash and food items.
And Stephens says none of it would be possible without
the help of volunteers.
We have a lot, well over 3,000 people helped put this
up, take it down, fix, repair, whatever needs to get
done, so it's a total community effort.
And that effort paid off, as some even traveled all
the way from Australia to experience La Crosse's biggest
A lot better than what I thought it would be, we dont
have all of these sort of festivals like this in Australia
so this is a really great epxerience it started when
I was tagged in a Facebook post and I got really excited
about it and I said yes we should definitely do this
and I was so glad that I was able to come.
There's no admission to get into the Rotary lights.
but they do ask that you bring non-perishable food
items or make a monetary donation..
Last year the event collected 13,000 food items for
This year they anticipate collecting close to 3-hundred
thousand food items.
And after many requests from the public.
an ice skating rink is one of the newest additions
to this year's Rotary Lights...
It's not up and running quite yet.
they first need some cooperation from mother nature.