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October 29, 2010 04:55 PM

Falls Park Transforming To ‘Winter Wonderland’

sioux falls, sd

Sioux Falls is being transformed into a Winter Wonderland, not by snow and ice, but by a blizzard of lights.

It takes a lot of manpower to string up miles and miles of lights.

“If you were to take all of our light strings end to end, there's nearly 12 and a half miles of light strings,” Sioux Falls District Parks Supervisor Loren Beard said.

And a lot of garland as well. But it didn't start out that way when former Mayor Dave Munson first came up with the idea during his first term in office.

"It was very limited then. Our resources in terms of being able to get power to trees for lighting then was limited,” Beard said.

But over the years, power outlets were added in every corner of the park, enough to make even Clark Griswold proud.

"Overall, nearly 240,000 individual lights. That's including all of the mini lamps, the bigger C-7 LEDs, C-9 LEDs, so it's a lot,” Beard said.

But for all of the improvements over the years, the light bill at Falls Park is actually dropping.

"With the introduction of LED lighting, our electricity consumption is going down annually,” Beard said.

Beard says the workers here take a lot of pride in making the lights look just right. This year, work is ahead of schedule and he's hoping it stays that way.

"We've got some animated elements that take a little bit of time to tweak. We can go ahead and test things and be relatively certain that when we hit the switch on opening night that everything is going to function as we expect it to,” Beard said. 

For some people, the November 20 lighting ceremony can't come soon enough.

"It's something we look forward to every year to come down and when we have family and friends in town we bring them along too.  Kind of show off the Falls,” Sioux Falls resident Carla Hinceman said.

But for now, you'll just have to wait and remember what it looked like last year.

You might think last year's heavy snow was hard on the lights, but Beard says the biggest problems come from vandalism.

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