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.
TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk Fall ride concluded Sunday. The three day motorcycle festival had less attendance than in previous years due to COVI-19, but it did not stop local businesses from enjoying the visitors from all over the country.
Local and small businesses were out in full force trying to make profits for the season with Fall ride concluding the festival season. The town of Tomahawk had less attendees than last year but the hotels had no problem filling their rooms. The owner of the Four Seasons Motel, Andy Wadia, said September is their busiest time of year.
"So many people came from Chicago, Minnesota, Iowa, some from California so it's good," said Wadia. "Good for the business good for the town, you know local business is good for local business you know."
Not only were there visitors from all over the country but business vendors like Eli Villarreal, Owner of Marie's Famous Headbands drove all the way from Corpus Christi, Texas to keep his business alive through the pandemic.
"We didn't hit our numbers like we did last year," said Villarreal. "This year we're probably like 40 percent down, but like I said with everything being cancelled across the US we'll take it right now. I mean we need it, that's our bread and butter."
Tomahawk businesses love when fall ride comes for the three day weekend as it is the last push for businesses to make their final profits before the off season takes over and the influx of tourism grinds to a halt.
FLORENCE - We have updates from Florence, Onconto, and Shawano Counties on the identification of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer species which attacks and kills all true ash species. They have been found in 57 of the 72 counties in Wisconsin.
Public Lands Forester, of Florence County, Tyler Wood explained how the Emerald Ash Borer likes to travel on firewood, to reduce the spread to other places, burn the wood in the same place you bought or gathered it.
"The Emerald Ash Borer can fly easily about a half a mile, and up to maybe 5 miles away from a host tree to find another tree in order to infect that tree," said Wood.
Though there won't be a significant impact on the environment in Florence county, not knowing if your tree is infected could lead to safety concerns around your property or for people with streets lined with the trees, dangerous roadways could occur during storms.
Forest Health Specialist, Linda Williams, spoke about how the future extinction would affect more than just the forest. The MLB uses ash trees to make their baseball bats, as well as the local Native American tribes whos culture traditions create baskets from ash.
"The Emerald Ash Borer will kill the Ash Trees. And we've seen that happening in southern Wisconsin as well as other states that have had it for much longer than us. Other species of trees tend to come into those sites sometimes they are desirable species and some are not," said Williams..
If you are a concerned ash tree owner some signs that your tree has been infested is the outer bark removed by woodpeckers, and D-shaped holes where the insects have emerged.
For people with 10 plus acres you can file a request with the DNR to have a walk through to understand how to manage the Emerald Ash Borer at mywisconsinwoods.org.
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women's rights champion who became the court's second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87.
Ginsburg died of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court said.
MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction violated state law when it withheld voucher students' standardized test scores for a day last fall, a judge ruled Friday.
School Choice Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative law firm, sued the department in Jefferson County court in November. The lawsuit revolved around the 2018-19 standardized test scores that the department released that September.
MOSINEE - President Donald Trump stepped up his rhetoric on cultural issues, aiming to boost enthusiasm among rural Wisconsin voters as he tries to repeat his path to victory four years ago.
Making his fifth visit to the pivotal battleground state this year, Trump views success in the state's less-populated counties as critical to another term. He held a rally Thursday evening in Mosinee, in central Wisconsin, an area of the state that shifted dramatically toward Republicans in 2016, enabling Trump to overcome even greater deficits in urban and suburban parts of the state.
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