It doesn’t feel like Christmas to me without a few key ingredients: Snow, Christmas trees (preferably real ones, because they smell so good!), Santa sightings, and lights, lights, lights. I wish the season lasted longer so I could enjoy the glowing lights when the doldrums of winter set in.
Every evening on my drive home from work, I get to cruise past Phalen Park on St. Paul’s East Side and enjoy the twinkle of the large lights from afar. I also got to experience it up-close when my family drove through the event December 5. This was the third year I’ve gone through, and the first year I got to see the magic of the displays through the eyes of a very excited 4 and 7 year old (my husband and I went once pre-kids, once when the boys were younger, and now this year). In my opinion, it’s more than worth the $10 per-vehicle fee. The event is a partnership between the St. Paul chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the St. Paul Police Foundation. According to their website, their goal is to create a fun and affordable holiday event that serves a dual purpose of raising funds for Twin Cities metro area kids and adults in need. (Net proceeds are distributed to Union Gospel Mission, the Saint Paul Police Foundation, and the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy.)
We listened to Christmas music as we slowly drove down the path, oohing and ahhing at the more than 60 holiday light sculptures and animated displays, pointing out which ones we liked as we saw them. (Leaping elves, jumping frogs, and fire-breathing dragons were all high on the list.) I think seeing the displays helped us all get into the Christmas spirit. It was fun to see the lights as a family, but what I especially appreciated was the charitable aspect of the event.
Lights in the Park goes from 5:30 to 10 p.m. every night through January 1, 2015. It’s located at 1615 Phalen Drive East in St. Paul’s Phalen Park. The fee is $10 per vehicle, $15 for limos, vans, and mini buses, and $30 per coach bus. Come after the December 20 or 21 Wild games and receive a $5 discount by showing a valid ticket stub from either of those night. December 21 is also St. Paul Police and Families Appreciation Night, when all active or retired SPDD will get free admission with a valid badge or ID. (Thank you, St. Paul police!)
There’s also an official CD soundtrack to accompany the event, “Holiday Lights Vol. 6″ available at the event for $5 and in all Kowalski’s markets for $10 (if you buy the CD at the grocery store, you’ll receive a free pass to Lights in the Park). This year’s CD features talented Minnesota musicians Nicholas David, The Blenders, Mick Sterling, Alison Scott, Chris Koza, Esera Tuaolo, Phil Thompson and more.
For more information, visit saintpaulpolicefoundation.com.