Festival of Lights at the Washington Park Zoo


The annual Washington Park Festival of Lights display kicked off for the 2017-2018 winter season on the evening of Saturday, December 2nd. The Festival of Lights in Washington Park is an extravagant display of Christmas lights and is held right outside of the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City.

“The Festival of Lights in Michigan City is what I look forward to seeing every year. The lights are always displayed creatively and everyone seems to love the setup,” Audrey Pletcher, LPHS senior, said.

Many of the people who come to see the light display in Washington Park are from La Porte County, as well as from places such as Portage, Hammond, and even the Chicago area. There is no admission to see the light display; however, donations are always welcome.

The light display in Washington Park features nearly 30 acres of decorations, containing more than 70 displays, somewhere around two miles of extension cords, and millions of light bulbs.

“Making sure all of the rope lighting on the 70 or so displays is working properly is among the first things done. It’s quite a process,” Sandy Kalinowski, supervisor of the park department maintenance department, said.

Crews also check daily to ensure that any lights that may have burned out are replaced. Often, though, they just have to reset the breakers that sometimes trip or replacing a timer.

The festival began in 1981 with only one lighted Christmas tree figure. By the early 1990s, there were somewhere around 50 lighted characters and strands of multi-colored lights throughout the park.

“One of my favorite Christmas traditions is getting hot chocolate and going with my family to see the lights in Washington Park. I hope to keep this tradition in the future if I ever have kids. I definitely recommend going to look at the light display,” Kate Bye, LPHS senior, said.

The annual display of holiday lights will be on every night until the first week of January 2018.

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