Oh Night Divine: La Crosse’s 4 Million Lights
From living-room evergreens to the scores of shimmering trees at Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls, twinkling lights are everywhere in the Chippewa Valley during the holidays. But if you’re traveling the state this season – or your family is eager for a yuletide road-trip – several other communities offers breathtakingly huge Christmas light displays.
Among the biggest and best isn’t far from the Chippewa Valley: Just 90 miles away in La Crosse you’ll find the Rotary Lights, which boast an astonishing 4 million lights in Riverside Park. Between the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29 this year) and New Year’s Eve, an estimated 300,000 visitors enjoy the illumination while traveling through the park by car, foot, or even horse-drawn carriage! As if gawking at the constellations of glittering lights and holiday-themed displays isn’t enough, on select nights (and days) the park features attractions such as a parade, bonfires (with free s’mores!), an ice skating rink, hay rides, live reindeer, a breakfast with Santa, and even a 5K Ugly Sweater run.
In addition to spreading seasonal joy, the Rotary Lights – now in their 25th year – illuminate the problem of hunger. Each year, visitors to the free display donate hundreds of thousands of food items, which are distributed through area food pantries. It’s enough to brighten the heart of the surliest Scrooge!