The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Entertainment

November 30, 2013

A million lights for a good cause

KOKOMO, Ind. — It started out on a single lot on Kokomo’s north side in 1995 and over the past 18 years has grown to more than one million Christmas lights.

The donations from the We Care Park display, the dream of business owner Mike Wyant, goes to benefit the local charity that helps provide Christmas presents to local youngsters, clothing and food. It has raised more than $500,000 for the charity.

Long before you arrive at the intersection of Gano Street and Apperson Way the brilliant displays illuminate the sky.

There are fire-breathing dragons, helicopters, amusement rides including a Ferris wheel, a large stuffed bear, Santa’s House including Santa and Mrs. Claus and archways over the streets and alleys.

In a garage next to Wyant’s home, there is a remembrance of the men and women who have served in the U.S. military.

From that single lot that Wyant purchased in 1995 the display of Christmas lights has grown to include an entire city block and most of the surrounding homes.

It’s a display that has garnered national attention on the “Today” show and been featured on the “Around Indiana” show on the Indiana Public Broadcasting stations.

Wyant and his flock of “elves” provide hot chocolate to visitors, candy canes and toys for every child who comes to view the display.

Every year Wyant and his crew of volunteers add new features to the display. This year the addition is lights strung across Gano Street. Additional lighted trees, three crosses and a Nativity house.

How much does it cost and who foots the electrical bill? Wyant said his wife pays the light bill and never tells him how much it costs.

Volunteers start setting up the displays in August with more than 8,000 extension cords that connect to five electric meters.

Wyant is on the hunt year round looking for outdoor lighting bargains to add to the display.

One of 16 children, Wyant said his family struggled to even afford a Christmas tree at times, but the family always enjoyed the twinkling lights during the holidays.

Sharing is a part of the success story of We Care Park. Local businesses have made donations, a restaurant donates the hot chocolate and every year the privilege of turning on the lights on Thanksgiving Day night is auctioned off with the money going to the charity.

“When you see a kid,” Wyant said of choosing a toy off the tree, “you know that that’s the only thing he’s going to get for Christmas – that means something.”

Wyant is quick to point out that the annual light display would not be possible without the volunteers who help with the set-up and at the park through much of the month of December.

The alley has been named to honor the Wyant family and he has received a Sagamore of the Wabash from the state for his efforts.

“I’ll do this as long as I can,” Wyant said. He is already grooming his grandson to continue the holiday tradition.

Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.

1
Text Only
Entertainment
  • 'Pawn Stars' TV star plans stores near famous shop

    The long parade of tourists who regularly stop by the downtown Las Vegas shop featured on the History Channel reality show "Pawn Stars" could soon have something better to do while waiting in line.

    July 29, 2014

  • Markleville Jamboree begins July 31 Is your baby the prettiest? Does your pet do amazing tricks? Do you bake, sew, craft? Do you like tractors? If any of this sounds like you, you're invited to join in the contests at the Markleville Jamboree.

    July 28, 2014

  • NWS - HB0728 - Colts Camp - 006 Armed Forces Day at Colts camp pairs Girl Scout cookies with veterans

    Pair Girl Scouts and their world-famous cookies with Armed Forces Day at Indianapolis Colts training camp, and you've got a winning combination. Operation: Cookie Drop, as it's called, is a program where customers buy boxes of cookies for delivery to active and retired military throughout central Indiana.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA-HB0727-MCWinery-JC6.JPG Having a wine time

    Cathy Hensley’s never been much of a drinker. It wasn’t something that interested her very much, so it seemed unfathomable that she would ever run a winery. But after her son Eric offered her and her husband, Duke, some wine he made, it changed things.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA - HB0726 - Naturalist Day Camp - JC 5 Mounds camps offer outdoor fun "Can toads go in the pool?" It's one of the many questions Douglass and other interpretive naturalists received during Naturalists Day Camp, the second of three day camps Mounds Park is offering this summer.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_8125.JPG Auction teaches in business, farming

    After 10 years of 4-H, saying goodbye to his animals has become a simple matter for McKennon Heald. But he said he wouldn't be surprised to see some tears from some of the younger participants. He's been there.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS - HB0725 - Colts Camp - 272 Colts fans come from all over Indiana for training camp

    Under bright skies and mild temperatures, Indianapolis Colts fans turned out in droves to witness the first of this year's public practices during training camp at Anderson University's campus on Thursday.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • FEA - HB0725 - 13 The Musical - JC - 1.JPG Review: Musical takes you back to being '13'

    Wanting to kill your mom and pining for a Wonderbra are typical desires young teenage girls have, but that just scratches the surface of the relatable themes in Mainstage Theatre’s production of “13: The Musical.”

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Live music: July 25

    Live entertainment at local venues as published in the Friday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 24, 2014

  • NWS - HB0724 - 4-H fair - 142 Showmanship competition reveals best handler

    With a tug here, a push there, and gentle directional tapping with a small aluminum stick, Savannah Martin of Summitville won Wednesday's Supreme Showman trophy after four rounds directing swine, sheep, goats and steers through various handling exercises.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos