Mooseheart lights show format practically made for a pandemic

A local holiday tradition that didn't get canceled, massively altered or converted to a “virtual” event returned Friday.

The annual Mooseheart Holiday Lights — an event practically made for a pandemic — opened for its 11th year with cars lined up a half-hour before the opening.

The drive-through light show features more than 100 displays on its 1.8-mile route. The show runs daily from 5 to 9 p.m. until New Year's Eve. Mooseheart Executive Director Gary Urwiler was glad the show could go on.

“It's a great marketing opportunity for us to share what Mooseheart does, but most of all we just want to create that family atmosphere where people can come out and enjoy it with their kids and kick off the holiday season,” he said

Mooseheart did have to cancel Santa visits and some other volunteer/visitor interactions. But new this year is a FM radio simulcast that plays music and shares short messages about Mooseheart's mission and how to get involved.

More than 13,000 cars drove through last year, and Mooseheart's goal this year is a record 15,000.

“We're hopeful that with COVID we might see a larger number of people of this year,” Urwiler said.

A suggested donation of $20 is requested at the end of the route, but visitors are encouraged to enjoy the show and give what they can. All proceeds benefit Mooseheart, a residential care facility for children and teens in need, from infancy through high school.

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  A Nativity scene sits in front of the House of Good on Friday evening at the Mooseheart Holiday Lights display. Rick West/
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