It’s a wrap for Sleepy Eye Holiday Lights in Motion

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

The Holiday Lights in Motion display was so popular this year that the HLM Board decided to extend it two weekends past the normal Jan. 1 end date. This past weekend it was time to take it all down.

Volunteers untangled, tested and rewound light strings on reels Saturday and Sunday in St. Mary’s Fieldhouse. Pictured from left are Katie Trebesch, Barb Pelzel, Aaron Christensen, and Andy Pelzel.

Co-Chair Shari Hittesdorf said approximately 22,000 vehicles passed through the park during the 46 nights of the event—almost doubling the 2019 total. 

“Our biggest night came Saturday, December 12, when nearly 1,300 vehicles went through the lighted loop,” said Hittesdorf. “I wish we could do an actual head count. On the busy nights, most vehicles had three or four people inside. And we saw several buses drive through.”

Hittesdorf said the event brought customers to local businesses also.  “We specifically heard from employees at Casey’s and Dairy Queen, we were told they were crazy busy on Friday and Saturday nights.”

Because of the large number of visitors traffic control was conducted on a few of the busiest nights for the safety of all travelers. Vehicles were re-routed to the Divine Providence service road to wait, to prevent back-up on the highway.

“This was a challenge, but thanks to some dedicated volunteers, it was very efficient,” Hittesdorf said.

She said they saw many who traveled one to two hours to come to Sleepy Eye and were aware of a few who came from South Dakota and Iowa.

“It was especially fun to see the kids come through with their heads popped through the car sunroofs,” Hittesdorf said. “The expressions on their faces were priceless.”

“This season was especially gratifying because all the hard work paid off with a safe place for families to visit during the pandemic,” Hittesdorf said. “In a trying time, we feel our event offered some joy to all ages.”

In addition, the Holiday Lights in Motion folks helped deliver 186 letters to Santa via their North Pole Express Mailbox located in the park.

Hittesdorf said they hope things normalize by next season so they can return to offering the special event nights.

Co-Chair Mike Suess said his crew started taking light strings out of the trees on Monday, Jan. 11 because the weather was so nice. “Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, we were able to complete the light strings take down process this past weekend,” he said.

The light strings were toted over to the St. Mary’s Fieldhouse where another crew of volunteers sorted through them, checked for damaged strings (to be repaired later) and wound the good strings on reels for storage.

The Holiday Lights in Motion Board will begin planning for 2021 at their February meeting.