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Rhinelander's Lights of the Northwoods display dazzles on opening nightSubmitted: 12/14/2017
Story By Lane Kimble

Rhinelander's Lights of the Northwoods display dazzles on opening night
RHINELANDER - A quick countdown and a quick snip of a ribbon Thursday night couldn't come soon enough for Shawn Will.

"It's just gorgeous," Will said.

The Lights of the Northwoods Vice President watched as Hodag Park lit up on a large scale with holiday lights for the first time.

"This is incredible," Will said, with tears in his eyes.


The idea came from similar -- albeit larger -- displays in La Crosse and Marshfield. Will and a committee of volunteers worked for hundreds of hours to put together their own holiday lights show at the Rhinelander waterfront park.

The group raised money to buy 50,000 lights to go on trees, then brought in community members and groups to put together the show, which Will considers a "preview" for future years. Wisconsin Public Service and Gaber Electric offered expertise and equipment to provide power throughout Hodag Park.

"This is one of those Field of Dreams moments, you know, if you build it, they will come and they are coming in droves," Will said.

A long line of cars waited at the park's entrance at 5 p.m. to drive through the show on the opening night. Committee member Erica Chariton says seeing that line made months of work and a previous weekend full of setup worth it.

"It's something that's been needed here for a long time and I am super excited for it," Chariton said.

In addition to the 50,000 lights on trees, the show features 32 individual ground displays. The show is free to enter, but food and money donations are encouraged.

"It means bringing the community together and that's the biggest thing," community member and Rondele Ranch employee Joe Boehlen said as he waited with his wife in line.

The event is drive-through only this year, but committee members are already thinking of adding a walking path next year.

"Bigger and better, more lights," Chariton said with a laugh.

For now, tens of thousands of lights and colors will work just fine for Will, but he knows a quick four-day show this year lights the way for an even bigger and bolder display in 2018.

"This is not the end, this is just the beginning to, I believe, a great tradition here," Will said.

The Lights of the Northwoods will be open each night this weekend through Sunday, Dec. 17. More information is available via the link below.

Related Weblinks:
Lights of the Northwoods website

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Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

IRON COUNTY - One person died in a snowmobiling incident in Iron County early Sunday morning. The victim was identified as a 47-year-old female.

According to a press release by the Iron County Sheriff's Department, dispatch received a call at 1:52 a.m. reporting a snowmobile crashed on Trail 17 just outside Hurley and the operator was unresponsive.

First responders arrived at 2:04 a.m. and began taking life saving measures. The driver was then transported by rescue sled to Beacon ambulance and then to Aspirus GVH in Ironwood, MI.

After continued life-saving measures, the 47-year-old female was pronounced dead at Aspirus Hospital.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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RHINELANDER - High school and middle school cross country skiers spent the weekend competing in Rhinelander for the annual Ascension Northwoods Nordic Hodag Challenge.

The two-day event attracted teams from more than 10 different schools across Wisconsin, and some schools from Michigan.

Head Coach for Rhinelander Nordic Charil Reis said her team spent a lot of time hitting the trails thanks to the generosity of mother nature. 

"We've been blessed with a lot of snow this year, so we haven't had to do a lot of indoor type of practice," said Reis.

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RHINELANDER - The League of Women Voters of the Northwoods held a session on how to vote in Wisconsin at ArtStart earlier this evening.

They highlighted the voting process including what forms of ID are required.

Co-chair of the group, Debra Durchslag said she was happy after Sunday's turnout.

"I was very pleased to see a new group of interested Oneida county residents who are very much interested to register unregistered voters," said Durchslag

The League is a non-partisan organization devoted to educating the public about local and national politics.

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OSHKOSH, WIS. (AP) - A Wisconsin teenager who was shot and wounded when he stabbed a school resource officer has been ordered to stand trial.

Grant Fuhrman, 17, is charged as an adult with attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the Dec. 3 attack at Oshkosh West High School.

Fuhrman is accused of stabbing Mike Wissink multiple times with a barbecue fork. Court documents say the officer was unable to reach his stun gun so he shot Fuhrman twice. Neither was seriously injured.

The school was evacuated and classes were cancelled for two days.

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EAGLE RIVER - Professional snowmobilers took to the racetrack in Eagle River this weekend. However, they weren't the only ones riding on some top-of-the line sleds.

Arctic Cat was at the derby offering demo rides on their 2021 models. People got a chance to try out the different machines, and put money down on a model of their choice.

Sales director Joe Klosterman said it's important for people to try before they buy.

"We do it to give an experience to the consumer," said Klosterman. "You wouldn't buy a car without driving it. We've also got a new model this year that I think is going to bring a lot of new people into the industry." 

Demo workers took guests out on a 10-mile loop to experience some of the best trails in the Northwoods. Those trails featured curbs, some fresh powder, and lots of bumps to test the machines' suspension.

Klosterman said Arctic Cat sold lots of sleds over the weekend thanks to the promotion.

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MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced Sunday he wants state lawmakers to pass a package of bills aimed at curbing youth vaping and educating the public about vaping's potential dangers.

The bills Evers, a Democrat, is requesting would ban vaping and vapor products on K-12 campuses and expand the definition of public health emergencies. Another bill would fund a public health campaign to address youth vaping in the state and a fourth proposal would expand the enforcement capacity of the Departments of Revenue and Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to prevent vaping products from being sold to minors.

The governor's office outlined his proposals in a press release Sunday.

"As a parent, grandparent, and lifelong educator, I am deeply concerned about the health and well-being of our kids," Evers said in a statement. "Vaping is a serious public health epidemic and it is time to take action."

The governor's office said vaping products pose serious health risks to young users because the nicotine contained in e-cigarettes can harm parts of the brain that control attention and learning.

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ST. GERMAIN - Silent sports enthusiasts gathered in St. Germain on Saturday to celebrate a new connector loop and an expanded parking area that was added to the Fern Ridge Trail System.

Chairperson of the St. Germain Non-Motorized Trail Committee Anne Small said the scenery of the Northwoods plus the new improvements encourages people to come out and enjoy nature.

"People really like this property," said Small. "It's very pretty and in an open mature woods and it's very hilly."

Small said despite recent storms bringing more snow to the trails, it did not make her job harder.

"I came out this morning and packed down the trails," said Small. "I went around the loops a couple of times, but once it's packed down its easy."


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