Wisconsin News

Sparks fly in Rotary Lights romance

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Rotary Lights volunteers are putting the finishing touches on their 2.6 million light display.

But it's not just a place to get into the holiday spirit. It's also a place for romance.

Back in 1998, Amy Wettstein thought Rotary Lights was going to get in the way of her crush.

"I told my mom that I thought he was cute. She told my dad. My dad then asked him out for me. And he told my dad that he was busy for a while, for the next month, because he was working at Rotary lights," she said.

So she took matters into her own hands. She went to the park to volunteer too.

"She's persistent," said Andy Wettstein.


And as they hung lights together, sparks began to fly.

Their first date was opening night.

"It's very magical," said Andy Wettstein.

Two years later, they got engaged.

Amy Wettstein said she's learned a few things over their years of marriage.

"I've learned a lesson: Never take a carriage ride with Andy on the first night of opening. I thought I'd do that one a couple years, tried it, and he goes through the park and is making a list. Instead of it being a nice, romantic thing to do, he's sitting there making a mental list of all the things that need to be fixed," she said.

Fifteen years later, they're still volunteering at Rotary Lights together. She's in charge of making thousands of chocolate chip cookies for volunteers to enjoy every night. He calls himself the technical director.

Just like a marriage, Rotary Lights may be a lot of work, but the end result is something beautiful.

"I always paint it as a Norman Rockwell type painting. You come down here on a nice night after a couple inches of snow ... and you see literally hundreds of families, kids, so many people that are out here. And it just ties in family atmosphere so much. And to me, that's what marriage is about. It's about family," said Andy Wettstein.

Amy and Andy Wettstein aren't the only Rotary Lights love story out there -- far from it. Rotary Lights president Pat Stephens said a handful of couples get engaged or married at the display every year.

Opening night of Rotary Lights is on Friday. The parade starts at 5 p.m. and the switch is set to be flipped on the display at around 6:15 p.m.

But if you go on Saturday, there's a good chance you'll see Andy and Amy Wettstein strolling through the park. It's their wedding anniversary.

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