Volunteers beginning to set up the Rotary Winter Wonderland at Wildwood Zoo

Light display is a fundraising for local food pantries
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 6:57 PM CDT
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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - Volunteers are already beginning to set up the 17th Annual Rotary Winter Wonderland at the Wildwood Zoo in Marshfield. The light show is a fundraiser for local food pantries.

The event organizer said it takes about a month to set up the millions of Christmas lights.

“We collect canned goods and monetary donations to donate to 28 local food pantries in central Wisconsin,” said Danielle Nystrom, the event organizer.

Although the event begins the day after Thanksgiving, volunteers are setting up the Christmas light display now.

“So the project takes about a month to set up from start to finish, but people work on this project all year round,” said Nystrom.

Nystrom said it takes an army of volunteers to set up the almost 2 million lights.

“So we have lots of displays, we obviously have lots of lights on trees. They guys come up with different designs every year,” said Nystrom.

The light show is one attraction, while the fundraiser is another.

”Well, the food pantries are really seeing a hit this year,” said Cheryl Lewis- Hartl, the director of Soup or Socks.

Soup or Socks is one of the many food pantries the Rotary Winter Wonderland supports. The non-profit organization said they’ve participated in the event every year since the light show began.

“Normally we served people only 6 times a year, but this year, because of inflation and everything else going on, we went to a monthly that people can come monthly,” said Lewis- Hartl.

The director of Soups or Socks said they’re grateful to be a recipient of the food and donations.

“It’s just evolved every year. It’s just fabulous. We are very grateful for the donations that people bring when they come to visit it,” said Lewis- Hartl.

The Rotary Winter Wonderland begins on November 25th and runs through New Year’s Day. A food donation or monetary donation is required to enter.