Rotary Winter Wonderland opens for 14th season

MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) -- It’s the season of giving, and the Marshfield Rotary Club has a big goal that it is hoping the people of central and north central Wisconsin can help it reach this holiday season, all while taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of Christmas.

Rotary Winter Wonderland in Marshfield is now open for 2019. (WSAW photo)

For the 14th year, the Rotary Winter Wonderland is lighting up the Wildwood Zoo in Marshfield. Founded in 2006, the free exhibit of lights has helped the rotary club collect food and donations for area food pantries and food banks.

“We’ve collected over 660,000 cans of food in all of our seasons,” said Danielle Nystrom, chair of the 2019 Rotary Winter Wonderland. “This year we’re hoping to get over that 700,000 mark.”

The event is made possible by over 1,000 volunteers who put in work year-round to give everyone a magical holiday experience.

“We have a great group of men and women that put this together,” said Nystrom. “It’s always very exciting to see everyone’s reaction when we finally open.”

Hundreds filed into the winter wonderland Friday evening for opening night, some by foot and others by car. The exhibits allow people to wander throughout the Wildwood Zoo, looking at what Nystrom says is over 2-million lights on display, all while listening to Christmas music. Many in attendance helped add to the donation bank to assist the cause.

“It’s free will donation of cash or canned-goods at the gates,” said Nystrom. “We are a week shorter this year because Thanksgiving was a week later, so we have some to make up for but we’re hoping people will be extra generous and keep that in mind when they come through this year.”

The Rotary Winter Wonderland is open every night until December 31 from 5-9 p.m. in Marshfield.