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A local holiday tradition – the Kiwanis Holiday of Lights – is again taking shape at the Racine Zoo, 2131 N. Main St.

Last Saturday (Nov. 3) and again today (Nov. 10), dozens of community volunteers stretched electrical cables/cords, assembled frames and gradually put the huge, colorful outdoor lighting displays into place.

Today’s work centered around a pair of Christmas trees along the Zoo’s pond. A cherry picker truck and a volunteer from Cassity Tree Service attached a D-shaped bracket and a star-shaped frame atop two 35-foot poles. Long light strands were hung from the brackets and staked to the ground by Kiwanis Club members. When the green strands are lit in the near future, the lighting from North Main Street gives an illusion of large Christmas trees.


Other light displays include zoo animals (giraffes, zebras, penguins, monkeys, etc.), toys, candy canes and, of course, Santa Claus.

The display’s 22-by-28-foot waterfall will be assembled in the near future with help of a crane donated by Carlson Roofing. A date hasn’t been set for the display’s lighting but volunteers expect it to be ready to go by Thanksgiving.

The Kiwanis Holiday of Lights started with an elaborate light display at the North Bay home of the late George Wheary from 1962 through 1981. The Wheary family donated the light display to the city which moved it to Monument Square in the early ’80s.

In 1985, the city’s Kiwanis clubs took over the project and moved it to its present location at the Racine Zoo. The nonprofit Kiwanis Holiday Lights Foundation maintains and stores the lighting display at space donated by D.W Davies Co. The annual set up and tear down is completed with the help of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and community volunteers.

The display maintenance and improvements are funded through the sale of an annual tree ornament. This year’s ornament design, featuring the iconic Kewpee Sandwich Shop, is $10. To learn more about buying an ornament, click HERE

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...