By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — The holiday season would not be complete without Christmas lights.
Thanks to the Ottumwa Chamber of Commerce, plenty of holiday cheer will be spread again this year through the Holiday Nights ‘N Lights at Greater Ottumwa Park.
This is the ninth consecutive year the Chamber of Commerce is having the Nights ‘N Lights, and, as usual, plenty of volunteer hours have been used to help set up for this year’s event. According to Chamber Director Tim Kurtz, this year there were 10-15 volunteers who have been showing up over the last two weeks to help drive posts and set up electrical wires.
All of their hard work during the last few weeks will pay off soon since they have completed the setup and are only working on some little details to get ready for the opening next weekend.
“We’re done with everything, we just have some odds and ends and we’ll be done next week,” Kurtz said.
What makes this such a great event is the money that gets donated back to the community. All of the volunteers track their hours, and then the Chamber writes a check at the end to go toward the nonprofits that the volunteers are working for. Last year they were able to donate approximately $8,500 to the local nonprofits.
“It’s a clean, family-oriented piece, and we’re able to give back to the community through the volunteer work,” Kurtz said.
The lights stretch over a pathway about a mile long through Greater Ottumwa Park with 50 displays along the way. They range from the smaller pieces that are only a few feet high to the massive structures, like Old Man Winter, who stands about 40-50 feet tall.
Guests will be allowed to drive through starting next week with a VIP night for major sponsors on Thursday, followed by a walk-through provided by the Parks Department and the opening night for the public on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Tickets to drive through the pathway are $10 per vehicle and are available at the Chamber of Commerce or any participating Elliot Oil Convenience Store. Times for drive-through are 6-8:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 6-9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
There will also be a Santa available for younger people at the Santa house along the path. He will be stationed there Thursdays through Sundays.
“The main thing is it couldn’t be done without the volunteers,” Kurtz said. “It was a lot of hard work setting these up. It’s a good community thing and a tradition, and we look forward to putting this on.”
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