For nearly 60 years, since the first homeowners on Campbell Drive stuck together some stovepipe, painted them to look like candy canes and stuck them near the street, Huron has continued to find new and inventive ways to celebrate Christmas and the holiday season.
Since the creation of Candy Cane Lane in 1962, the Christmas Lanes in Huron has now grown to more than 40 and are a target of family “drive-by” celebrations every year. A thermos of hot chocolate, maybe some freshly baked sugar cookies, a map of the city and some holiday music on the sound system is all it takes.
This year, in addition to taking in the Parade of Lights and the Christmas Lanes, of course, there is a shiny new tradition to enjoy in its inaugural season.
A talent for creating framework designs, with an opportunity for his Boy Scout troop and a urge to add to the Huron holiday lore has spurred Robert Bult on an undertaking of park-size dreams.
From its beginnings back in March, through hours of sharing ideas and with the support of the city parks department, Memorial Park has been transformed into a drive-through holiday celebration by Bult, the scoutmaster for Troop 151.
“I had quite a few of the items we are using for framework that I had built already,” said Bult one breezy morning as he shared his vision. “So I put the idea out to the troop as something that we could do that would be a good community project. With the stuff I had built already, and some new things I constructed this year, we will have a park filled with items that will be fully lit for the holidays.”
Our tour begins on the north end of Memorial Park, which for safety reasons is the entrance to the display. On the west side of the drive, lights will be strung on a cable near the walking path. Bult said that there will be ‘Christmas Cards’ on that side as well, wooden doors or other materials painted by individuals, businesses, organizations or churches. “We’ll anchor the cards and then put a spotlight on them,” he said. Near the horseshoe pits in the middle of the park, Bult expects to have fully lit bicycles, while inside the fenced pits, donated and decorated Christmas trees will transform itself into “Christmas Tree Park.”
On the east side of the drive — you’ll want to go slowly to not miss anything — a collection of holiday shapes; Christmas trees, bells, snowmen and more will be spaced out and decorated. A huge 20-foot slingshot that Bult said he built for a Boy Scout fundraiser involving the launch of pumpkins, will be adorned with a nine-foot wreath.
Not wanting to leave any of the park’s permanent residents out of the celebration, Bult said that he and his troop will be decorating the existing swing sets with lights and that the sand volleyball court will see lights for its net and fully decorated players will be playing a game.
Both the tower bridge and the monkey bridge that Bult built for use at the State Fair will be decorated for the holidays and free standing showers built for scout retreat will see new life as candles. Further down the street on the east side, three flagpoles will support stars and the tallest star will shine down on a manger scene.
Before people exit the park, they will be treated to lit presents, waiting to be loaded on Santa’s sleigh, complete with reindeer and the jolly elf himself, taking time from his workshop to greet those taking the tour with a holiday candy treat.
“I guess that I kind of got the idea after taking in the lights at Falls Park in Sioux Falls and seeing the light display in Miller,” Bult said. “I thought that Huron should have something like that as well.”
He added that other Boy Scout troops in the area have been invited to come and assist with the hanging of lights, “Lots and lots of lights,” on the framework of shapes that Bult has built over the years.
Earlier this year, Bult reached out to the community for donations of lights, trees and other holiday items and he said the response has been great. “Many people are thrilled to donate trees or lights, maybe some garland and have it repurposed for the community to enjoy,” he said.
The various floats from the Parade of Lights on Nov. 26, can also be part of the entertainment, as Bult said the city has agreed to leave the power on to the camping sites on the west end of the park, so floats could be parked there and lit for the holidays if they would like to do so.
“Everyone with the city has been very supportive and cooperative,” Bult said. “I spoke to the mayor and the city commission and heard lots of positives.”
Bult said he hope is that people are curious and taking some time to drive through the display and, hopefully, feel inspired to become involved in the ensuing years.
“This is the first year and while I have ideas for next year and the year after that, I welcome others’ contributions and ideas,” he said. “I have plans for a light show that is coordinated with music that people could tune in on their car radio, but that will take place next year. There is much to complete yet this year!”
If you would like to donate items or help decorate for this year’s Memorial Park Light Display, contact the City’s Parks and Recreation Department for more information.
And make sure you take a drive through the park this holiday season. You’ll be glad you did!