Marshfield's Rotary Winter Wonderland comes to life

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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) -- Volunteers spent Saturday morning getting lights ready for the opening of the Rotary Winter Wonderland at the Wildwood Zoo in Marshfield.

Volunteers work to get the lights ready for the Rotary Winter Wonderland at the Wildwood Zoo (WSAW Photo).

Once it opens on November 29, you can ride or walk thought the light display and enjoy live music Wednesday to Sunday and kids can visit Santa Thursday to Sunday.

"Sigh of relief is what I like to say when I see it for the first time," said volunteer Carter Grove, a Marshfield native who has fond memories of coming to see the lights as a kid and got involved leading other volunteers.

It takes millions of light bulbs put up by about 75 volunteers during four sessions to light up the winter wonderland.

"I come back and see all the little children looking at all the lights and loving it and then I like feeling that I knew that I helped put that on for them," said Grove.

A feeling that chair Danielle Nystrom has been a part of since her father helped start the event 14 years ago. The whole community gets involved in putting it together, including a local Boy Scout troop and a high school class.

"The central display is the coolest because we have a collaboration with Marshfield High School. Some of their students help us program the music and the lights to dance together," Nystrom said. “This just really brings the best out in everybody in the community around the holiday season.”

This year, the zoo built a new cougar enclosure and lights are designed around it.

“There's been some construction at the zoo this year, so we adapted around that and changed some of the ways the displays look," said Nystrom.

At the heart of their mission for this event is the desire to give back to families who experience hunger in Marshfield and the surrounding communities around the holidays. They set up a donation station by the entrance, where they accept food or money to be donated to locals.

"We actually service 29 food pantries in the local areas, not just in Marshfield, that get the food and the funds from this event," said Nystrom. “It brings tears to my eyes when we open and we see how much food comes in the doors every night that we’re open.”

The lights will be on every night from 5 to 9 p.m. starting November 29 through December 31.