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Holiday light displays to open soon in the Northwoods

Erin Gottsacker

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, and holiday light displays are on their way to the Northwoods. The display at Hodag Park in Rhinelander will light up for the first time this Friday.

Hodag Park is transforming into a winter wonderland.

Volunteers twirl strings of lights through the ballfield in the shape of a Christmas star. They drill a railing onto Santa’s sleigh and prepare his workshop for curious kids.

“The kids enjoy it. Last year, I think we had a little less than 1,000 kids that came in for Santa Claus,” says Don Hoppe, president of Lights of the Northwoods, which decorates the park every year. “This year, we expect probably more.”

This year’s holiday light display will also be brighter than ever.

“It’ll double the light up from last year,” Hoppe says.

The park will have new decorations around the beach house and near its new amphitheater.

But Hoppe says the best part of the light show will stay the same.

“To have people come and enjoy it, that’s always the motivation for doing things,” he says.

Hodag Park’s sixth annual holiday lights festival opens Friday, Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. The lights will be open nightly from 5 to 9 p.m. through Jan. 1.

The festival is free to walkers and drivers, but Lights of the Northwoods will accept canned food and monetary donations to support future displays and the local food pantry.

Rondele Ranch in Harshaw will also host a holiday light display. It opens Dec. 9 at 4 p.m.

The Rotary Winter Wonderland at Marshfield Wildwood Zoo is open every day until the end of December.

Additional details about holiday events across the Northwoods can be found on WXPR’s community calendar.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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