Knock me over with a feather…how could this be our 10th year already?! An idea that formulated at a Rotary conference in 2010 has become an annual anticipated family event. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we reflect on the path to where we are today.
Some of the initial challenges were obtaining the support of the Sheboygan County Rotary clubs, finding an appropriate venue, developing a steering committee, securing a workshop to store materials and construct displays and gaining support from prospective sponsors. As displays grew in number, tens of thousands of dollars were spent by us to up-grade the electrical capabilities in the park and is ongoing.
Our initial opening was in 2012 with displays we managed to create and a few that were rented. We soon discovered that rental was not the way to go due to expense and the inferior quality. Since that time, our very talented production crew designs and creates every display that you see, each year getting more sophisticated in their operation and appearance. All are volunteers and some offer us expertise in engineering, welding, carpentry, electricity and pattern creation. There is always a need for lesser talents to complete various projects.
Indoor Activities at the Jaycee Quarryview Center add another component on the weekends before Christmas, offering nightly entertainment, visits with Santa, wreath raffles, trolley rides and concessions.
Warehouse space has been an adventure with our beginning, thanks to Saunders Kohn at KP Welding, allowing us to work on the premises. Needing more space, we moved to a previous warehouse belonging to RCS and subsequently different locations belonging to Morrelle Transfer. As we continued to grow and needing even more space, Steve Schmitt, representing the Humane Society offered a portion of a warehouse that they owned. It has proven to be a workable space in close proximity to the park that we hope to occupy for a long time to come.
We can’t begin to thank the City of Sheboygan-Public Works for their cooperation. Their support has afforded us so many opportunities for development. As a thank you to them and added convenience for us, our talented crew designed, created and installed a steel front gate for the park. According to historical records, a gate was planned in the initial years but for some reasons was never built or installed.
Days of operation have grown from closing before Christmas to receiving visitors from the Friday after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve (Closed Dec 24). The number of visitors and pantry items collected continue to increase, setting new records in 2020, despite Co-Vid 19 concerns.
We are not just a destination for residents of Sheboygan County. Each year, we see visitors from our surrounding counties as well as Milwaukee, Chicago, Madison, Green Bay and the Fox Valley. We have welcomed motorcoach travelers as well from as far away as Minnesota bringing additional tourism dollars to the area.
It has been an adventure and none of it would be possible without our dedicated volunteers and generous sponsors, so once again, we offer a huge thank you.
Seasons Greetings to All,