Light show endsAbbott House switches to smaller, static display.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
If the Abbott House’s popular Christmas light display seems a little smaller and quieter this year, that’s because it is.
The total number of lights is down from a peak of about 250,000 lights — the largest display over the past four years — to fewer than 100,000 lights this year, Executive Director Eric Klooz said Thursday.
Klooz said a shortage of volunteers and funds played into the decision to scale back the popular lighting display, as well as a board decision to move fundraising efforts in a different direction.
Klooz said lighting committee membership numbers dwindled this year as did the numbers of volunteer students from Mitchell Technical Institute.
In the past, students from MTI’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) computer classes pitched in, but student numbers were down in those classes this year.
This year’s display, which was installed by Abbott House staff members, is static, which is to say it isn’t programmed to music as in years past. The lights will go on at 5:30 p.m. and off at 10 p.m.
Some Christmas props, like a stylized Santa created by Mitchell resident Ron Vanderheiden from concrete reinforcement bars, are being used to fill out this year’s lawn display.
Klooz said the change was a disappointment to some, but it was necessary.
Like many nonprofit organizations, Abbott House has seen state funding support drop off in recent years.
“To keep our programs in place, we’ve had to work harder to raise more funds,” Klooz said. “Between the smaller committee and the smaller workforce, we decided to take a year off and focus on some other things for a while.”
There also will be no drive-by donation boxes this year — which is not to say Abbott House is not seeking donations.
Instead, Abbott House will concentrate on selling tickets to its Mosaic motorcycle fundraiser. Mosaic is the name given to a customized 2006 Harley-Davidson motorcycle rebuilt by girls in Abbott House’s “Helping With Horsepower” program. The program is the brainchild of Laura Klock of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles, of Mitchell, the program’s sponsor.
Past corporate sponsors for the Christmas lighting program have shifted support to the Mosaic fundraiser.
The Abbott House will raffle off Mosaic in March. About 2,000 tickets have been sold to date, Klooz said. The goal is to sell 3,500 tickets at $20 each.
“That will raise $70,000 for us, which is by far the biggest fundraiser we’ve ever had,” he said, “and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The tickets, which are sold at some Mitchell businesses and online at abbotthouse.org, make great Christmas gifts and will go to support a good cause, Klooz said.