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Rotary Lights are on for 27th year



The 27th season of Rotary Lights in La Crosse has started with the traditional parade, fireworks, and illumination of Riverside Park.

Following the 6 p.m. parade downtown, Santa Claus arrived at the bandshell to throw the switch, which set off fireworks in Pettibone Park, and turned on millions of Christmas lights along the riverfront.

The light bulb mascots of Rotary Lights join Santa Claus at the bandshell

The opening ceremony introduced two new walking light-bulb mascots, a male bulb named Kilo Watt and a female bulb named Katie Watt. The names were chosen from dozens submitted by the public in a contest.

The main purpose of Rotary Lights is to collect food for area pantries, and event president Pat Stephens says that went well even in 2020, when the pandemic put some limits on holiday activities, with 340,000 food items collected.   

There will be more live entertainment at the bandshell this year during the 36 nights of Rotary Lights, compared to last year when the entertainment was limited. 

The parade from Main Street to Riverside Park started an hour later than usual this year, to get rush-hour traffic through downtown before the event. It was called off last year because of COVID-19.

Rotary Lights will run 36 nights in 2021, operating every night through New Year’s Eve.    

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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