La Crosse’s Rotary Lights hosts “All Abilities Night”

Dozens of families walked through Riverside Park on the night designed to make the annual display more inclusive

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- The lights of La Crosse’s Rotary Lights display were not so bright Monday night- and that’s a good thing.

For the first time in the display’s 27-year history, volunteers dimmed the lights, stopped the displays from flashing, and lowered the volume of holiday music to make the display more accessible to people living with autism, down syndrome, and other sensory issues.

The local autism foundation and down syndrome group, the school districts, and hospitals helped rotary volunteers plan for “All Abilities Night”. Organizers also set up a calming zone inside the Rotary igloo which turned out to be a fan favorite. “Because it’s warm. It’s warm, ” says Reese, a 15-year-old member of the La Crosse Autism Foundation.

Dozens of families walked through the park, posed for pictures, and roasted smores during “All Abilities Night” including the Erickson family. 3-year old Marcus has autism and is non-verbal. His mom says they’ve never felt comfortable walking through the display until tonight. “It’s awesome. I like it. He gets to walk around with me and his brother and see Santa, and do all the stuff I wish he could do, ” says Tamara Erickson.

If successful, Rotary Lights planned to make “All Abilities Night” an annual event. News 8 Now hasn’t spoken with organizers yet, but from what we saw, it looks like that will happen.

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