It takes a village – Pratt Tribune

By Jennifer Stultz Editor

MORE THAN 20,000 vehicles passed through Pratt’s Lemon Park during the last Christmas season, their occupants probably enjoying the beauty of the many light shows set up each November and dismantled in the first week of January.

“That’s more visitors than we’ve ever had before, and that doesn’t count the many, many walkers and rack riders we’ve had this year,” said Deb Goyen, Lemon Park co-organizer. Lights.

On January 8, a village of volunteers showed up to help put away the light shows, participating in a community event that brings a lot of positive energy to Pratt.

“Many companies took down their displays throughout the week. Other volunteers and civic groups came to help us on Saturday, and just like that, we were done for another year, ”said Goyen.

For Stephanie Becker and several members of the Pratt Kiwanis Club, helping out with the Lemon Park Lights is something they feel privileged to be a part of.

“We look forward to doing our part every year,” Becker said. “The weather was so nice on Saturday, I wasn’t sure it would be good because it was so cold the last few days. But the snow melted and the sun came out. In fact, it made the stakes easier this year than in the past because the ground was softer. “

The Kiwanis and their friends helped stop and tidy up the Christmas village just south of the shelter in the park, while Jennifer Hopkins and her family, along with friends, took down two displays north of the aisle on the north side of Lemon Park.

“Every year we are tasked with assembling and disassembling two of these screens,” Hopkins said. “It’s just something we love to do together, a way to support our community. “

Community support came in an additional way this year, when vandals attempted to steal joy from those who love to see the illuminated screens.

In the height of the Christmas season, with a steady stream of visitors to Pratt and the Lemon Park Lights arriving every night, some young locals decided to unplug the screens.

“We had taken out the cameras and were able to identify who the culprits were,” Goyen said. “We also had people track down the three young people involved and let their parents know what was going on. “

Goyen said the three college kids unplugged all 12-day Christmas lights at Sixth Street Park, which adjoins Lemon Park. It was disheartening for her and Miller, as well as for many volunteers, who had spent so many hours checking and replacing light bulbs to ensure each display was lit to its best capacity for the Christmas season.

Goyen said once the mothers got involved, the situation was resolved fairly quickly.

“The kids came and apologized to Ron and myself in person,” she said. “I really think they felt bad about what happened and they went with Ron to help him plug everything back in.” I don’t think they realized everything it takes to turn on anything, the whole Christmas lights thing. Now they do.

Goyen said no permanent damage was done to the light displays, so no charges were laid. The kids involved have even returned to help take down and put away some of the light shows for the season.

“It takes a whole community of volunteers to make this work,” said Goyen. “Pratt is indeed fortunate to have so many good people who care about their community and want to improve it. I want to thank everyone who helps Ron and I achieve this year after year.

Part of this year’s 82 light displays were 10 new items or groups. They included coffee drinkers on a bench (Betty Heape and Betty Wright memorials), the Keith Befort Harley cycle, butterflies (Darlene English memorial), an owl (Mattie Kaiser memorial), a wind tower (sponsored by BTI-Pratt ), pets for cats and dogs (Ray Zang Memorial), a reporter on a bench by the pond (Jim Phillips Memorial), decorated trees and a poinsettia (Jeanne Carson Memorial).

“We already have a lot of requests for new memorials for next year,” Goyen said. “The lights might only be on for a few weeks at Christmas, but it’s really a year-round project. “