Christmas Village in Chippewa Falls starts new tradition, fundraiser with 'Run for the Lights'

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wisc. (WEAU) - After 25 years of the Christmas Village, Chippewa Falls is starting a new tradition to keep the lights on.

Every holiday, people pour into the park to take in the twinkle, but it takes a lot to keep the tradition alive.

In its second day open, hundreds filed in Friday to see the soldiers, football team and angels inside the Christmas Village in Irvine Park.

"After shopping in Eau Claire on Black Friday, we decided to stop and get in the Christmas spirit," Roseanne Suda of Owen said.

"People that come here always come back. It's a very unique wonderful Christmas display of lights and art," Chippewa Falls Parks and Recreation Director Dick Hebert said.

But the sea of lights comes at a cost.

"It costs about $3,000 for the electrical bill, number one. We're trying to go to led lights, which are very expensive," Hebert said.

So the city came up with what it hopes is a solution, adding to its long-standing tradition.

Hebert said 220 runners pre-registered for the Run for the Lights 5K run or one-mile walk and expected many more Saturday. Funds will go to upgrading next year's village.

"We've been very lucky through the generous support of the city and community, we are able to raise the funds each year to make this event go," Hebert said.

It's not just cash that keeps the lights on, more than 100 volunteers help string up 60,000 lights and set up 195 Christmas displays in the past six weeks," Hebert said.

"We came for the very first time last year, and now it's become our tradition to come every year," Melissa Bortz of Eau Claire said.

"I just wish that my yard was this big so I could have all these lights," Alexis Bortz said.

Registration for the Run for the Lights race opens Saturday at 3:00 p.m., and the race starts at 4:00 p.m. from Irvine Park's pavilion. Christmas Village is open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. through New Year's Day.

Here is a link to register for the race: Http://bit.Ly/wistkk

Donations can be sent to "The Chippewa Falls Christmas Village, C/O the Northwestern Bank, P.O. Box 49, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729.

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