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Winter Wonderland At Falls Park

November 18, 2011, 6:55 AM by Austin Hoffman

Winter Wonderland At Falls Park
SIOUX FALLS, SD - If the possibility of snow doesn't get you in the holiday spirit, maybe a whole bunch of lights at Falls Park will.

The city's annual Winter Wonderland will kick off this weekend. It's a process that started more than a month ago, stringing thousands of lights. Many of which are different than years past, all to give you the perfect winter experience.

"It’s a busy place once these lights are on. It’s kind of continuous traffic. It might not be a traffic jam, but there’s always people circling the park," Sioux Falls Parks and Rec, District Supervisor Loren Beard said.

Beard says it's a task his crew takes very seriously. This year, close to 80 percent of the nearly 250,000 lights strung around the falls are LED's; soon, they all will be.

"Simply because they last longer, they're greener, and yeah, they don’t have any impact, but fiscally, it’s very fiscally responsible for us," Beard said.

They've expanded almost every year and added more lights but haven't noticed an increase in the electric bill because of the LED's. It's a small change that's making a big difference.

But it's not all about the money; it's finding a way to spread Christmas cheer.

"The best part of it, the light ceremony that we have, is to be watching some of the smaller children when the countdown hits and just watching their faces when the park lights up, and for me that kind of makes it all worth while," Beard said.

"There’s nothing more rewarding at the end of a tough day than scooping ice cream for a young child, they're always happy, their eyes just light up. So yeah, absolutely, with Christmas being here, it’s a magical time of year. There’s going to be a real positive energy down here and it's going to be fantastic," Utopia at Falls Park Café Chef Joshua Kellar said.

Kellar says it's amazing to watch as the lights take form and then in one burst of light, they come to life.

"If you can get down here for timing of it and see it in its natural state and then see the lights, they really do add an element that plays right along with Christmas," Kellar said.

The lighting ceremony will kick off shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday.

There will be plenty of Christmas activities to partake in; wagon rides, reindeer, the Zoo-Mobile, even Mr. and Mrs. Clause will be there.

Organizers now hope the weather will cooperate.

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