Lions Clubs of Grand Forks to donate a day of Christmas in the Park proceeds to local animal shelter
Annual holiday display, open nightly through Dec. 31, raises funds for many local charities
The Lions Clubs of Grand Forks is giving all proceeds from its drive-thru of the colorful, lighted Christmas in the Park display on Wednesday, Dec. 16, to the Circle of Friends animal shelter. Guests will be asked to give a free-will offering, rather than the regular per-vehicle admission, at the Lincoln Park holiday attraction.
The display route, which lines the Lincoln Drive loop in Lincoln Park, is open from 5:30 to 10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31. This year, 48 displays are sponsored by local businesses and organizations.
The Christmas in the Park entrance is located off Belmont Road and 13th Avenue South.
Several new displays have been added this year to enhance the visit to Christmas in the Park, and an animated light display at the end of the route is synchronized with holiday music via a low-power FM transmitter, according to organizers.
“Every night it’s a different song,” said Barb Nordstog, past president of the Grand Forks Lions Club and member of the Christmas in the Park committee. “That’s kind of a cool thing.”
Candy canes are given to children, compliments of the local Lions Clubs. The display is organized by the Grand Forks Lions Club, South Forks Lions Clubs, Red River Lions Club and UND Campus Lions Club.
The Lions Clubs offer organizations, youth groups and others the opportunity to rent displays instead of creating their own, said Clair Zirnhelt, member of the South Forks Lions board and the Christmas in the Park committee.
“We have an inventory of displays, Zirnhelt said. “We’ve been clearing out the incandescent lights and adding (displays with) more LEDs and more motion."
Some displays that are new this year include a carriage with horses, a tow truck that’s pulling Santa’s sleigh and a snow family, with Mom, Dad, kids, a dog, cat, baby and snowman. An animated “Merry Christmas” sign has been added to the entrance. Last year, a 10-foot-tall Santa Claus, who’s waving, with Mrs. Claus alongside, was added to the display.
Except for Wednesday, Dec. 16, admission is $6 per car, $10 per limo and $20 per bus. Any proceeds that are realized are donated to charities, such as the American Diabetes Association, area youth programs, the Red Cross, area camps for handicapped individuals, Leader Dog for the Blind, Third Street Clinic, the Community Violence Intervention Center, the North Dakota School for the Blind, eye exams and glasses for needy children and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Over the past two decades, the Lions have raised $125,000 through Christmas in the Park for local charities.
Last year, 3,500 vehicles toured Christmas in the Park, organizers said. They’re hoping that this year, after months of restrictions due to the pandemic that area residents “will take time to drive through these displays,” they said in a news release. “There can never be too much Christmas cheer, and a drive through Christmas in the Park will greatly enhance your family’s holidays.”
“With everybody cooped up, we’re hoping people will want to get out (and see the display). I’m kind of wishing for some snow," Nordstog said.
Interest in Christmas lights and decoration display has jumped, according to Zirnhelt.
“We are seeing an increase in the drive-thru. It’s been quite heavy. It’s pretty much what we’ve planned, but more than we hoped for," said Zirnhelt, who recommended that visitors take in the display on a weeknight, rather than weekends, to avoid congestion.