By Kelly Youngblood
During a neighborhood gathering in the Fall of 2019, a group of St. Joseph residents decided to start a new tradition — a neighborhood Christmas light display called Willowdale Winter Wonderland.
At the time, no one had any idea that a global pandemic would hit in 2020 or that their light display would turn out to be a great source of joy for both the neighbors and the community during an especially difficult time.
Lacey Smith, a key organizer of the event, said everyone had more time on their hands in 2020 “so decorating for Christmas and bringing the community some extra joy was a welcome distraction from what was going in our world at the time.”
“It was so uplifting to see the neighborhood come together. I had so many people reach out to me last year saying that their children wanted to drive through multiple times,” Smith said.
This year, Willowdale Winter Wonderland is back again. The display will run every night through Dec. 31 from 5-9:30 p.m.
Visitors can expect neighborhood kids to pass out candy canes and free hot chocolate most Friday and Saturday nights. Santa Claus will also make an appearance on occasion!
Willowdale Winter Wonderland is located in St. Joseph, right off I-74. The neighborhood starts on the corner of Willowdale Drive and 1700 North. Smith said the neighborhood lights are visible from the interstate.
Smith is excited to experience more of the Christmas joy they felt last year. “Seeing how much happiness it brought to our neighborhood. It’s a simple thing; putting up a bunch of Christmas lights … but the impact has been amazing.”