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5 Tips to Help You Plan Your Holiday Lights Visit
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5 Tips to Help You Plan Your Holiday Lights Visit

For 12 years a team of staff and volunteers at Helping Services has exerted huge effort to transform Pulpit Rock Campground into a magical, bedazzled place to experience: the Holiday Lights Magical Nights Fundraiser. Each year new Christmas light displays or surprises are added to help you and your family celebrate the season, as you drive through the campground. Here’s what you’ll want to consider when you plan your 2016 visit:

1. You can walk through the park! (But only on November 23.)

Last year was the first ever walk-through night, and boy, oh boy, did people love it! So it’s happening again this year. Come take a walking tour of the lights while enjoying free hot cocoa, cookies, soup, and goodies from some of the event sponsorsn.

Adults can be just as excited as the little ones to take a ride on the Pokey Pete train. (Who doesn’t remember a fond memory of the Pokey Pete train here in Northeast Iowa?)

Photographers will be ready for your crew to stop by the photo stations and use the fun holiday props to snap a picture for a last minute Christmas card, or they can take your picture with Santa.

Remember, because of safety concerns, this is your only chance to see the lights on foot.

TIP: Use the free parking shuttle to have a low-stress evening.

2. This year you can come any night between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Most years the Lights close down a few nights earlier in the week because of low visitor numbers. However, this year, because we do not want anyone to miss out on visiting, we’re recruiting more volunteers and developing creative ways to collect donations, so that you can come any night of the week that fits your family’s schedule.

TIP: Enjoy a more private, quiet visit by coming on a night that is typically less busy, such as Monday through Thursday.

3. If you want to see Santa, come any Thursday through Sunday before Christmas Eve.

The big man himself will be at the Lights for part of the evening (5:30–8 p.m.) each Thursday through Sunday before Christmas Eve. He’s ready to greet you with holiday cheer, pass on to your kids a little gift from Helping Services, and listen to Christmas wish lists.

TIP: Visit Santa on a Thursday when he is least busy, so you’ll have more time to chat with him.

4. You can give whatever way is most convenient for you: at the gate or online (before or after your visit). Your donation truly matters.

This event is an extension of Helping Services’ mission because it provides an opportunity for your family and others to establish an annual tradition that is fun, healthy, and fitting with the season. But this grand display also is a fundraiser to help fill in budget gaps and keep services free and accessible.

Freewill donations will be taken at the gate (cash or check) by volunteers, or you can give online. Gifts like yours are used to provide local services to families and children who seek help.

TIP: If you would like a receipt for your donation for tax deductions, give online, or print of this form to complete and include with a check for your donation. Cash gifts and checks without this form will not receive a receipt.

5. While you’re at the Lights, you can also learn about how Helping Services can partner with you, your family, or your neighbors.

The volunteers who will greet your happy carload are there because they believe in the mission of Helping Services, and they will want to tell you all about it. The Helping Services Team works with youth, adults, and communities throughout Northeast Iowa, not just in Decorah or Winneshiek County. So, ask questions about what is offered and available to your family. If the volunteers don’t know the answer, they’ll be sure to find someone who does.

We work with people from all backgrounds, economic status, and level of need to equip people in their personal life or their community situation in these areas:

Hopefully, this list will help you have the best visit ever to the 2016 Holiday Lights Magical Nights display.


We appreciate and are sincerely grateful for the ways our mission and the Holiday Lights fundraiser have been truly blessed with local support: from Northeast Iowa communities and families, such as yours, who have visited Holiday Lights; from the sponsorships of many businesses and individuals; and from the commitment of more than 250 event volunteers. It takes all of these valuable pieces to make this event a magical tradition and meaningful fundraiser.

—Happy Holidays from Helping Services


  1. Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    Thanks so much for this terrific list of tips!

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