The Ottumwa Courier

November 10, 2012

Holiday Nights 'N' Lights plans new displays, relocation of past favorites

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — More lights, new lights and more power in those lights.

Illuminating Ottumwa Park with Holiday Nights ’N’ Lights is under way, and the crews are busy with preparations for next weekend’s event opening, according to Terry McNitt, executive director of Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Our first year was 2005, and the event has continued to grow, to get better,” McNitt said Friday morning. “This event is our eighth year, and each year we try to put in new displays.”

Keeping the event new and fresh is a challenge McNitt enjoys. He searches for new ideas and tries to put in new displays annually.

“We do have a new one called Riverboat, which is an animated display,” McNitt said. “Another one is Penguinfest, and 2012 is the first year for that display.”

Other displays have been moved around, and some of those include the Snowflake Cannon and the Arch. McNitt said moving displays around a bit can make the whole project look fresh.

Returning popular displays include the 200-foot tunnel and the happy fire-breathing dragon. McNitt also noted the train display is exciting for youngsters, and it’s off by itself for their enjoyment.

People do pay admission to enter the display and slowly drive around in the park. McNitt said the chamber does a lot with the funds.

“We appreciate our sponsors and wonderful volunteers who set up the displays,” he said.

The volunteers are given a credit of $5.40 per hour, which can be donated back to each volunteer’s organization.

Also, more than 6,000 permits have been purchased for the various systems used in the park. Some of the funds go to the campground throughout the camping season.

“We also give money to the trails system,” he added.

Another new item is putting LEDs on the 35-foot tree in Ottumwa Park, which should be ready by next week. And there are 28 Chamber of Commerce trees, which can be sponsored with a $100 donation.

“Those trees can be sponsored for a loved one who has passed on,” McNitt said.

For information, contact the Ottumwa Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 308 or 217 E. Main St., Ottumwa, Iowa, 52501; 641-682-3465. Readers can also go online to www.ottumwachamber.org/contact.php.

The eighth annual Holiday Nights ’N’ Lights will be Nov. 17-Dec. 28 in Ottumwa Park. Scheduled hours for the drive-through lighted extravaganza will be 6-8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Admission is $10 per car. For information, call 641-682-3465 or go to www.HolidayNightsandLights.com