CHRISTMAS CHEER: Lights Bring People To Town

One fully lit Christmas tree isn’t enough for a small central Iowa town. Guthrie Center pulls out all the stops when it comes to decorating for the holidays.

Twinkling lights and Christmas cheer bring carloads of people to town every year. Jim Laughery says, “We’re proud of it.”

They come to see the typical sights, like holiday wreaths, silver bells and lots of lights. Mayor Dennis Kunkle says, “I have not a clue, but a lot.”

The display includes, Santa’s playground, which is complete with a working Ferris Wheel, a carousel and elves on a see saw. Mary Jo Laughery says, “We really don’t do that much planning. It just happens.”

A town of fifteen hundred puts on this display in Guthrie Center. And every year it gets better and better. Mayor Kunkle says, “It’s been a work in progress for 20 years.”

You’ll now find 78 holiday displays and 545 milk cartons to help light your way. Kunkle says, “That’s a lot of milk jugs.”

A soup supper pays to replace burnt-out bulbs. The decorations are put up by families and clubs. Mary Jo says, “Every year we have more people say I wouldn’t mind putting a display up.”

The lovely lights are located in the city’s Mitchell Park. It won’t take long to drive through, but do go after dark. Jim Laughery says, “Here you can stay in your warm car. You don’t have to get out.”

It’s free to see the display. The community puts it on for fun. Mayor Kunkle says, “Come see our Christmas lights. That’s what we want you to do.”

There’s still more room for holiday cheer. The city got a grant from the Guthrie County Community Foundation a few years ago to install more light outlets throughout the park. The mayor wouldn’t say how much the electric bill is, but no one has ever complained.



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