The 20th aniversary of the Lemon Park Lights will see the return of some former park events that add to the enjoyment of the Lights.
This year on Sundays during the Lights season the park will feature hay rack rides though the park, area youth groups selling hot chocolate and caroling plus area churches presenting living nativity scenes, said Deb Goyen, Lemon Park Lights organizer.
The extra events will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Sunday during the Light season. More volunteers are needed for each of these added events. Hayracks will be pulled through the park with either tractors or pickups depending on the volunteer.
any youth organization is encouraged to set up a Sunday to sell hot chocolate and carol. The youth groups can use the project as a fundraiser for their groups. Volunteer youth groups are needed for this project, Goyen said.
Area churches are needed to participate in two more living nativity scenes. Volunteers should contact Goyen at The Peoples Bank at 672-5611.
for 20 years Lemon Park Lights have added a special touch to the Christmas season. Lighting ceremonies will be held in conjunction with the downtown Old Fashion Christmas on Nov. 19 and the lights remain on every night until the weekend after Christmas. Set up day for the lights is Sunday, Nov. 13.
Lemon Lights are the result of an idea Goyen had 20 years ago to bring some activity to the park during the winter.
she was inspired to bring some light to the park during her many times jogging in the winter when the park had little activity.
A group had just finished a three-year $30,000 project to put lights on the downtown buildings and Goyen thought they could continue with a new project of putting displays in the park.
she spoke with Jeanette Siemens, then Pratt Chamber of Commerce executive officer, and asked for her advice. The plan was to get downtown businesses involved to purchase the first eight big displays.
former City Manager George Anderson and Arlyn Bradford of the city power plant were very helpful as were the city commissioners who approved the additional underground electrical elements necessary to make the lights possible.
The first businesses to get involved were: The Peoples Bank, Stanion’s Electric, Pratt Regional Medical Center, Emprise Bank, City of Pratt, first National Bank, Dillons and Walmart. In addition to the businesses, the Lemon family provided the park entrance sign.
Goyen also asked families in the community to sponsor lighting a tree. The businesses and the families were responsible storing the lights or displays, putting the display up and taking it down, Goyen said.
The first year was a success and Goyen set a goal of adding $10,000 worth of lights every year. With support from various clubs, merchants, organizations, individuals, Travel and Tourism, the city plus memorial money, she has been able to maintain that goal and not have to go out and knock on doors like she did in the beginning.
Before the displays go up Goyen flags the location of each in a specific pattern that draws the eye from one side of the road to another. she also plans areas with no displays.
“You need dark areas to appreciate the light,” Goyen said. “There’s a lot of thought that goes into the layout.”
Keeping the lights on the displays is a big task. Usually starting Sept. 1, Ron Miller volunteers many hours repairing displays and light strings. Peggy Lee and the Community Service workers also do a tremendous amount of work to guarantee every light on every display is in good working order. so far $1,000 worth of lights have been replaced with another $1,000 to go.
Currently the Lights feature 150 displays and more are planned. This year she is adding mountains for the ski scene and an arch with lights in the shape of candy. The family of the late Dr. Giles Freeman is donating the Santa and sleigh that used to sit on top of the Freeman house. she is spending more money on technology than ever before to give the current lights a new look without having to spend a lot of money on displays.
changes in the display are necessary to keep people coming to Pratt to see the lights. The storage building is full but Goyen will continue to add more displays and improve the Lemon Light experience.