The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

December 27, 2012

Light display: Worse weather, better business

Friday final night for Holiday Nights ‘N Lights

OTTUMWA — While Holiday Nights  ‘N Lights started out doing pretty good business, when the weather turned cold is when the event really began to shine.

“When it’s warm, people are home and have things they’re out doing,” said Terry McNitt, executive director of the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce. “But once it’s cold and we get a little bit of snow on the ground, they jump in their cars and come down.”

And not just from Ottumwa, either. He said besides being fun and a fundraiser for area charities, the event brings in traffic from outside the area.  

“The community has supported it, and now it’s becoming popular regionally. We’ve had folks in from 40 different counties in Iowa,” McNitt said, “seven or eight different states, and more people came through from Des Moines this year.”

It would be hard to determine how much business Ottumwa retailers gain from the high traffic. Last year, 16,000 people saw the display, and McNitt said Holiday Nights ‘N Lights is on track to do the same numbers or better this year. But if you want to be one of those people, he said, your last chance will be tonight and Friday.

What you’ll see, the chamber director said, is more of the bright LED lights this year, favorite displays from past years and different displays added in. And yes, he said, there’s still a little bit of snow surrounding the displays.

“People like the snow; it really makes the displays stand out,”  said McNitt.

The chamber puts the event on each year in Ottumwa Park as part of the community betterment part of their mission. Local sponsors and volunteers keep the show running. The volunteers raise money for their favorite nonprofit in the area. The chamber gets some funds, which often go toward improving the holiday display or toward the Christmas decorations visible around Ottumwa.

“We’re actually working at it all year long,” McNitt said. “Right now, even before the event is over, we’re already looking at what we’re going to change out, what will get sent back and what we’ll keep for next year.”

They’re getting good at running the event, too. It takes less time to set up, requires fewer volunteers and hardly any equipment gets fried.

“It’s become a well-oiled machine,” McNitt said. “We’ve got volunteers who can do everything. The company comes down every year to program the light displays. This year, we have volunteers who did it. The lights were programed by engineers from John Deere and an Air Force veteran who’s an electronics expert.”

He thinks with the big attendance, the commercial operation that supplies the lights will want to continue the relationship, and support the chamber next year in recreating the winter wonderland. Instead of paying for their services up front, the business accepts a portion of the proceeds, as does the chamber and the charities that supply volunteers.  

But while 16,000 attendees has to be pretty good in the ranking of events that draw people, said McNitt, there’s more to Holiday Nights ‘N Lights than just the numbers.

“I was out there on Christmas Eve. That giving spirit seemed to be everywhere. Some cars would say they wanted to pay for the car behind them. Sometimes, it was someone they didn’t know. The next car pulled up and I’d tell them, ‘The folks in front of you paid for your admission; they wanted you to have a good Christmas.’ That was kind of fun.”

1
Text Only
Ottumwa
  • 0805 OTT Sports Brok Hopwood mug Three Bulldogs receive all-conference honors OTTUMWA – Brok Hopwood continues reap the benefits of his terrific season at catcher for the Ottumwa baseball team. Hopwood, who recently was named First Team All-South Central District, was also named a First-Team All-CIML Metro Conference selectio

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • halo-5-guardians-concept_wallpaper-1920x1080-53cf9b0098ea45ada37dc0f66bc174f5.jpg The Art of Kong

    OTTUMWA — The Mona Lisa. Whistler's Mother. Donkey Kong? Don't be so surprised, said Walter Day, that video games and the surrounding memorabilia are being considered art. The creativity and artistic vision required to create a poster, said the found

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Urbandale comes back to beat Ottumwa Midwest BOONE — Ottumwa Midwest led by seven runs in the fourth inning, but Urbandale National put together a furious comeback to steal the victory, 12-11, on Friday at the 9-10 Year Old Little League State Baseball Tournament. The top of the first saw Ottum

    July 25, 2014

  • Parks Dept. has long list of projects

    OTTUMWA — The Parks and Recreation Department has approved a list of capital improvements for the next two years that includes the installation of handicapped-accessible swings and new park bathrooms.

    July 9, 2014

  • 0710 Farmers Market Color Photo 1 -L -M Fresh food improves community

    OTTUMWA — Every summer across the Midwest, food stands pop up on gravel roads, and farmers markets are filled with a variety of home-grown products. Finding a fresh selection of healthy greens and juicy fruits isn't as hard as you might think. Accord

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0703 OTT Heart boy photo A Heartfelt Miracle OTTUMWA — It’s funny how wishes can change so completely in just a few weeks. But laughter wasn’t the reaction of Jeff and Mary Penrod.The Ottumwa couple’s son, Brandon, was 18 years old when, in February, Mary took him to the Pella clinic to get loo

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0703 OTT River Hills parking lot color photo -L -T River Hills expansion progresses

    OTTUMWA — Expanding River Hills Community Health Center downtown continues to be a priority with the Ottumwa City Council. Earlier this week, the council authorized city staff to survey the property, prepare a draft developers agreement as well as pr

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Street repair program begins OTTUMWA — If you think roadwork projects in the city of Ottumwa are just about complete, think again. This week, the Ottumwa City Council awarded its preventative maintenance contract for sealing cracks in asphalt and concrete pavement roads througho

    July 2, 2014

  • A new look OTTUMWA — The 300 block of East Main Street in Ottumwa will be getting a facelift. During a public hearing earlier this week, the Ottumwa City Council gave its OK to the plans and specifications to renovate 15 buildings’ storefronts in downtown Ottum

    July 2, 2014

  • City won't tolerate bad behavior

    OTTUMWA — A newly designed policy to establish standards of behavior was presented to Ottumwa City Council on Tuesday night.The new policy’s introduction on Tuesday, demands city staff and elected officials exhibit professional behavior when they int

    July 1, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National