FEBRUARY 1 – MANKATO – The total number of attendees for Mankato’s fantastic Kiwanis Holiday Lights Festival has now exceeded 1.5 million since the event’s 2012 inception, which is close to the 1.8 million lights on display at Sibley Park.
The latest festival, despite losing two nights due to inclement weather, managed to raise nearly $80,000 for the nonprofit district and attract 175,000 attendees, according to the Kiwanis Holiday Lights Board of Directors.
“Year X has been a very successful year in our eyes, even with us having to close two nights due to weather,” event president Scott Wojek said in a press release announcing the final stats Wednesday. “The hospitality of Kiwanis Holiday Lights visitors never ceases to amaze us.”
The $77,000 raised this season is just $4,000 down from the 2021 total. Attendance topped 175,000 in 2022 compared to over 200,000 the year before.
Free to the public, the event remains entirely volunteer-driven. Preparation was completed in 10 days over five weekends prior to the November 25th opening, and takedown was completed in just three days in early January following the end of the December 31st Lights Holiday. The 2,600 volunteers have provided a total of 14,400 hours of service.
The $77,000 will be divided among the 67 organizations that helped set up, dismantle, and volunteer help for the evening during the event. Another 54 Mankato area businesses were cash sponsors. Proceeds not distributed to organizations providing volunteers are used to help offset expenses and improve the event in future years.
Participating nonprofits were also allowed to decorate a tree along the walking path with visitors voting on their favourites. This year’s first place winner was Mankato West Vex Robotics ($300 prize), followed by a two-way tie for second place between the Mankato Area Youth Baseball Association and One Bright Star ($150 each).
Other final numbers from the 2022 Kiwanis Holiday Lights include:
– More than 3,000 children visited Santa.
Eight tons of food were collected for 16 food racks.
– The screen included more than 1.8 million energy-saving LED lights.
– 31 area restaurants donated food to help feed volunteers during the event, as well as during prep and takedown.
Since Kiwanis Holiday Lights opened in 2012, including the 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 129 tons of food have been collected for food shelves in the area; $590,000 donated to nonprofit volunteers; The show was watched by more than 1.5 million people; More than 18,000 volunteers from more than 115 nonprofit organizations participated; More than 165 companies supported this event in some way.
Those looking forward to the 2023 event have 295 days to wait. The opening show and lighting ceremony for the 2023 Kiwanis Holiday Lights season is set for November 24.