The Northland Arboretum will come alive with colorful and animated holiday lighting displays this Christmas season, thanks to the efforts of Brainerd area Sertoma clubs.
With today, the first day of fall, marking the end of summer, it may be a little early to imagine snow-covered grounds at the arboretum aglow with lighted holiday displays in the first Sertoma Winter Wonderland at the Northland Arboretum.
There are expected to be more than 50 displays, which can be viewed as people travel by vehicle through the arb. The displays will depict a variety of holiday scenes, everything from the North Pole to the Nativity scene.
"We believe we are creating a dazzling and exhilarating event that we hope becomes a new tradition for many folks in central Minnesota and beyond," said Steve Mau, Brainerd Noon Sertoma Club member and co-chair of the Winter Wonderland Project.
For six area children, the Winter Wonderland will be an opportunity for them to exhibit their artistic talents.
The Sertoma clubs are inviting area children, tots to teens up to age 18, to participate in the Winter Wonderland Kids Design a Display Contest.
"I am excited to see all of the creative sketches from our local kids displayed in the Holiday Village and the faces of the six kids whose sketches are turned into light displays," said Julia Sullivan, Brainerd Noon Sertoma Club president.
Children are asked to sketch a winter/holiday theme. Entry forms are available at area school offices, Wal-Mart and Wendy's in Brainerd. Entries are due by noon Friday and may be submitted to area school offices, Wal-Mart or Wendy's as well.
The six winners will be announced in mid-October. The winning entries will be used to create six light displays in the Winter Wonderland.
The Sertoma Winter Wonderland at the Northland Arboretum community intends to:
Provide a new and exciting winter event for the Brainerd lakes area that will attract visitors from throughout the region, resulting in a positive economic impact for area communities.
Provide a winter tourism activity, which the Brainerd Lakes Chamber and other organizations can use to promote the Brainerd lakes area and attract more visitors during the holiday shopping season.
Promote awareness for the Northland Arboretum.
Generate proceeds to benefit the Northland Arboretum and the many local organizations and projects sponsored by Sertoma.
Encourage individuals, businesses, service organizations, foundations and others to work together to promote the Brainerd lakes area to enhance the image of the community in the eyes of residents and visitors.
- Source: Brainerd area Sertoma clubs
Those submitting entries also will be entered into a drawing for various prizes, including an iPod and television as well as many other items. Those winners will be announced in early 2008.
The Winter Wonderland lighting display will be available for viewing from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays from Thanksgiving night through Dec. 30.
Cost per vehicle is $8, or $5 with a discount coupon available at participating businesses. Proceeds will be distributed by Sertoma clubs to area charities.
A Holiday Village, where the all children's contest entries will be displayed, will be housed in the arboretum welcome center. Concessions, including hot chocolate, flavored coffee and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, will be offered. Children may have their photograph taken with Santa Claus as well.
Steve "Gus" Augustinack, a Brainerd Noon Sertoma Club member and co-chair of the Winter Wonderland Project, said this event has been in the works for several years. It is designed after similar Sertoma displays in Jamestown, N.D., and Aberdeen, S.D.
"As a service club, we're always looking for ways to give back to the community," Augustinack said.
There are additional opportunities for businesses and organizations to participate in the Winter Wonderland event. More information is available by contacting Augustinack at 851-9919, Lori Rubin at 454-1203 or online at www.sertomawinterwonderland.com.
Augustinack said the Winter Wonderland is intended as an annual event for community members to enjoy for years to come.
"That's our hope," he said.
Rubin, also a Brainerd Noon Sertoma Club member and member of the Winter Wonderland Committee, said the event also is a great way to showcase the arboretum.
KATHI NAGORSKI may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5859.
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