By Bailey Hovland
Now that December has come, the Willmar Lakes Area has settled into a winter routine under a blanket of snow. Little ones bundle up to play in the snow after school, building snow forts out in their yards. Snowflakes fall from the sky, twirling gracefully on their gentle descent, and get caught in eyelashes or on noses for a moment before
Standing between two watchful toy soldiers, this enormous American flag brings a patriotic element to the holiday scene.
they melt. Families gather in the warmth of their houses as dusk comes, settling in around the dinner table with rosy cheeked children unthawing from their adventures outside. Christmas lights flicker on, illuminating front porches and glittering from the boughs of evergreen trees.
And on the northern edge of the town, Robbins Island comes to life with light and color, drawing people young and old to the peninsula that juts into Willmar Lake. Robbins Island, home of the Concerts at the Park, has been transformed this holiday season to continue a long-lasting tradition in the Willmar Lakes Area — “Celebrate the Light of the World.”
For years, the Koosman family hosted the annual light show, winning WCCO’s viewer’s choice award for the best Christmas lights in Minnesota and raising over $500,000 for The Salvation Army through freewill donations. It all began as a friendly competition between Chad Koosman and the Salvation Army’s best ringer, where Koosman created a display with 100,000 lights to give him an edge. Koosman even managed to garner national attention with a feature on “The Great Christmas Light Fight” through ABC.
This year, Willmar Fests has graciously taken over the role of hosting “Celebrate the Light of the World,” setting up the famous light display at Robbins Island. A ribbon-cutting ceremony honoring the Koosmans officially
This enormous Christmas tree towers over its miniature counterparts, spinning to the rhythm of holiday music as visitors drive by.
opened the holiday festivities on Saturday, December 1st. Running from 5:00-10:00 p.m., the light show will be open to the public every night until January 6. For the first half of lights, visitors can tune their radios to 88.7 fm for music that is synced to the dazzling lights. The second half is coordinated with 90.3 fm, featuring some of the newest technology in holiday lights!
With almost 800,000 Christmas lights, seven miles of extension cords, and the combined efforts of volunteers for over 1,000 hours to create this holiday masterpiece, “Celebrate the Light of the World” has yet another successful year in store in the Willmar Lakes Area. Some familiar features visitors might recognize from the Koosman’s light shows include the stunning tunnel of light pulsing to the beat, gigantic Christmas trees glittering against the darkened sky, and a proudly displayed American flag guarded by two toy soldiers.
The light show is visible all the way across Willmar Lake, shining boldly through the treeline separating the ice from the shore. The towering Christmas trees glimmer in the dark of the night, creating a hazy glow above the park. The light display is an emblem of community and light, bringing goodwill and joy to the Willmar Lakes Area for everyone to enjoy this holiday season.