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posted: 8/6/2014 5:30 AM

Holiday light show gets another year on former Cuneo grounds in Vernon Hills

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  • PAUL VALADE/pvalade@dailyherald.comThe Winter Wonderland holiday light show in Vernon Hills will be held at least one more time at the Cuneo Mansion & Gardens.

      PAUL VALADE/pvalade@dailyherald.comThe Winter Wonderland holiday light show in Vernon Hills will be held at least one more time at the Cuneo Mansion & Gardens.

 
 

The holiday light show that winds through the former Cuneo grounds in Vernon Hills, as one of the largest displays of its kind in the suburbs, will be held at least one more season.

The 21st Winter Wonderland drive-through holiday light show had been in question, as Loyola University Chicago considered development on a portion of the property it has owned since 2010.

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"Loyola indicated they are willing to do another (light show) with us, which is awesome," Village Manager John Kalmar said Tuesday.

Last year, about 22,000 cars passed through the wooded pathway of holiday lights and displays in what has become an annual tradition from about Thanksgiving through the end of the year.

The village spent about $30,000 last year advertising the event through direct mail and other means. Loyola gets 30 percent of the gross admission fees.

"It's not really a moneymaker. We look at it as a community event," Kalmar said.

"It attracts people to Vernon Hills during the holiday season, and we feel there is some ancillary benefit to the merchants."

The Cuneo Mansions & Garden was given to the university by the Cuneo Foundation and includes the sprawling 31,000-square-foot Italianate-style home completed in 1916 for Samuel Insull.

Publishing magnate John Cuneo Sr., bought the home in 1937 and operated the Hawthorn Mellody Farms Dairy and other ventures.

Loyola owns about 90 acres west of Milwaukee Avenue, north to the Canadian National railroad, and has been considering a development that would eliminate up to three quarters of the light show route.

The light show contract with Loyola expired two years ago and is being renewed on an annual basis.

"Pulte homes is working with Loyola on a plan that may see single-family homes built on the northern half of the Cuneo property," Kalmar said.

"It's conceptual in nature right now."

Loyola officials were not immediately available Tuesday.

The setup for the elaborate show begins in October and takes six to seven weeks to complete.

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