Countless hours of work, hundreds of extension cords, millions of light bulbs, and a healthy dose of Christmas spirit have combined at Rolla’s Lions Club Park. The result is a light display that is nothing less than breathtaking.
Members of the Rolla Lioness Club, along with a few of their husbands, bundled up in their warm winter clothes to put the finishing touches on the annual Christmas in the Park Light Display.
“It’s a lot of hard work for two weeks, but it’s worth it,” said Stacey Mahaney, one of the organizers of the Rolla Lioness Club event. This is one of the two major fundraisers put on by the club annual, the other being the funnel cake stand at the Lions Club Carnival.
“The donations don’t stay at the park,” said Mahaney. “They go to different organizations in the community.”
Local businesses, churches and other organizations come and set up their displays. There are also several displays put up by the Lioness Club where businesses could pay a sponsorship fee to have their sign displayed without putting in the work.
Of the about about 50 displays scattered around the park, one of the most impressive is a gazebo that has been transformed into a gingerbread house.
The always-popular dinosaur setup is back for another year. There are also Nativity scenes and Santas of all shapes and sizes around the park.
The display, which is in its 11th year, will be open Thursdays-Sundays until Dec. 22. Hours on Thursdays and Sundays are 6-9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 6-10 p.m. It is free to the public, but donations will be accepted to help many local community organizations.
This year, visitors will have the option to opt out of visiting with Santa. In the past Mahaney said lines would build up in the section where cars pull up, chat with, and occasionally have a photo taken with Santa. This year there is going to be a bypass around Santa that organizers hope will help reduce the wait time.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available by the soccer fields for children to say hello and get their last minute gift requests in. As you approach the end of the park near the soccer fields, there will be a sign in the middle of the road to either bear left to see Santa, or bear right to exit.
In 2011, about 3,600 cars full of people came through the park and donated about $10,000 for the Lioness Club to distribute to various charities and scholarships.
Organizers are hoping the weather will cooperate for the event.
“It’s always prettier if it snows,” said Mahaney.