You can tell there is something special going on even when you're still blocks away from the Sertoma Winter Wonderland. The glow from the lighted displays illuminates the evening sky five nights a week along Jackson Street, between Super One and the Brainerd Area Civic Center.
In an ambitious undertaking, the Brainerd Sertomans managed to assemble more than 50 lighted holiday displays, complete with animation and music. Touring the Northland Arboretum has become a popular way for people to spend the nights since Thanksgiving. Already more than 3,200 cars and almost 13,300 people have wound their way through the animated scenery.
Steve Augustinack, co-chair of Sertoma's Winter Wonderland, said the group is thrilled about the response so far to this first-time event.
A portion of the Sertoma Winter Wonderland lighting display illuminated the fresh snow as viewed Wednesday from a helicopter above the Northland Arboretum. Brainerd Sertomans created and staff the drive-though event, which continues Wednesdays through Sundays until Dec. 30. Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"With the fresh snow people are returning for a second and third time," he said, "and they're bringing others back with them."
Now, with three weeks left of the event, the Brainerd Sertoma Club hopes to make it possible for everyone to be able to visit the Winter Wonderland. They would like to offer senior citizens, residents of assisted living facilities, disabled people, youth groups and others that may not have another way out to tour the lights a means to do so by seeking sponsorships for bus tours.
"We are looking for businesses or groups to sponsor a tour," said Nanci Hallam, Winter Wonderland bus coordinator, "that will allow 18 people in one trip to go through the Winter Wonderland." She said inquiries have already come in about such an arrangement and they'd like to get at least 20 sponsorships. The cost to sponsor a bus is $150. Sponsors will receive recognition.
The means of transportation is already taken care of.
This tall poinsettia is among the more than 50 lighted holiday displays in the Sertoma Winter Wonderland. More than 3,200 cars and almost 13,300 people have wound their way through the animated scenery. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood » Purchase reprints of this photo.
The Good Samaritan Society has offered the use of its buses for any tours. Their decision was an easy one.
"When we learned about this wonderful event Sertoma had been planning ... we knew we could be a resource of help to provide transportation to those that wouldn't otherwise have the means to get out and see this truly unique display..." said Alicia Story, marketing director for the Good Samaritan Society of Brainerd and Pine River.
The light tour takes about 20 minutes to a half-hour to complete and celebrates various holiday themes, including living in the northwoods of Minnesota, Toyland and Joy to the World - "which celebrates the true meaning of Christmas," said Augustinack. Displays have been created from the Kids Display Design Contest that brings to life the ideas of local children.
In addition to the light tour a Holiday Village is set up inside of the arboretum's main building that offers more displays, concessions and visits with Santa Claus.
Augustinack said all of the proceeds raised from the event will be used locally to support Sertoma and arboretum projects and initiatives in the community, along with support for other charities.
Santa Claus listened to what Allison Rice wanted for Christmas last week at the Holiday Village set up in the Northland Arboretum. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood » Purchase reprints of this photo.
If you are interested in sponsoring a bus tour through the Winter Wonderland or requesting a bus tour for a group, call Lori Rubin, Winter Wonderland sponsorship coordinator, at 454-1203, or Nanci Hallam, Winter Wonderland bus coordinator, at 851-8102.
Hours for the Sertoma Winter Wonderland are 6-9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays until Dec. 30. The entrance is located on Northwest Seventh Street, next to the former World on Wheels. Cars exit on Conservation Drive.
Cost is $8 per car or $5 with discount coupons available from participating businesses.
For more information log on to www.sertomawinterwonderland.com.
SHEILA HELMBERGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5886.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.