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Minnesota family loses Christmas lights TV competition, still feel like winners

WILLMAR -- Chad and Angie Koosman's massive display of Christmas lights in rural Willmar did not win the $50,000 prize Monday in ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight," but the Koosmans said they -- and the community -- are still winners.

WILLMAR - Chad and Angie Koosman’s massive display of Christmas lights in rural Willmar did not win the $50,000 prize Monday in ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” but the Koosmans said they - and the community - are still winners.

“Win or lose, we know we’re still champions,” Chad told a crowd of supporters shortly before the winner was announced on national TV.

  An annual holiday decorating competition, “The Great Christmas Light Fight” features families and neighborhoods from across America who decorate their homes to the extreme for Christmas and boasts a total of $300,000 in prizes.

The Koosmans said they knew in early November that they did not win but had to keep it under wraps until the show aired. It was a festive atmosphere Monday night at the Oaks at Eagle Creek in Willmar, where more than 100 people attended a viewing party for the show that featured the Koosman display.

Chad Koosman said exposure on national television brought attention to the Salvation Army, the recipient of fundraising efforts at their display.

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The crew from ABC spent more than 50 hours at the Koosmans. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it, said Angie Koosman, “because of the community support and all the good we can do for the Salvation Army.”

Last year, $135,000 was raised through freewill donations and a myriad of matching funds from Willmar-area businesses and others across the state, some of whom also sponsor the display. This year, the Koosmans hope to raise $150,000.

The display has raised about $70,000 so far this year. Local sponsors have again offered matching funds this year.

Dubbed “Celebrate the Light of the World,” the Koosmans’ display attracts between 20,000 and 40,000 visitors each year to their Eagle Lake property north of Willmar. This year’s display features more than 450,000 bulbs and was set up in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving.

The display can be viewed from 4:30-11 p.m. through Jan. 4, and through the night on Christmas Eve.

In remarks at the viewing party, the Koosmans gave credit for the growth of the display to family, friends and community who have given financial support and volunteer time.

They said they will continue to do this display until they raise $1 million for Salvation Army.

Chad Koosman said a letter to Santa they received from a child at the light show asked for food and shoes for Christmas. That’s why they do the light show, he said.

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The Koosmans said they have received a lot of thanks for the display, but they think it’s the community who deserve the thanks - for providing both financial and moral support.

The Koosman property is located at 3903 60th Ave. N.E. in Willmar, on the east side of Eagle Lake.

For more information, call Chad Koosman at 320-295-1411 or visitcelebratethelight.net.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
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