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Wildwood zoo transforming into winter wonderland to benefit local food pantries

Published: Oct. 10, 2020 at 6:01 PM CDT
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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - The weather outside is certainly not frightful, but the holiday season is approaching fast.

This weekend volunteers started setting up the Rotary Winter Wonderland at the Wildwood Zoo in Marshfield.

Carefully coordinating more than a million lights might be nothing new for the volunteers. But they believe this year their mission to help local food pantries could be more important than ever.

“This year I just feel they’re going to need it more than ever before with everything that’s going on. They’re going to need a lot more, and this is a good way to help them,” said Carter Grove, a high school student who’s been volunteering for 4 years.

It’s helping more than two dozen local food pantries. Another reward for Grove is seeing people’s reactions.

“I like the first night when everyone comes in wondering what it’s going to look like this year, because it’s somewhat different every year,” he said.

Especially kids who wait all year for this.

“With all the animated displays, I like just when their eyes get really big when something flashes they wouldn’t expect to flash,” he added.

Families can drive through for social distancing. But lights are spread out this year for walking in the winter wonderland.

“Things will be in a different location this year from what you may have seen in the past,” he said.

In a year when many traditions are postponed, volunteers are excited to enjoy a beloved tradition.

“I’m just really happy that we’re still able to have it. Cause there was a lot of uncertainty earlier this year. When we got the green light saying we’re going, that was just amazing, cause this is the only thing that really feels the same this year,” Gove said.

It’s free to see the lights, but they ask anyone who can to pitch in a few dollars or bring food for the pantries. The winter wonderland is officially on display Nov. 27 through Dec. 31.

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