Published November 26, 2022

Behind the Scenes of Christmas in the Park 

Written by
Lydia Hoverson
| The Dakotan
A display at Christmas in the Park. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson)
A display at Christmas in the Park. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson)

A Good Cause in the Park 


MINOT – Sertoma Club’s Christmas in the Park has grown over the years, with people in the community looking forward to viewing the lights at the park and supporting a good cause. 

For over 25 years, Sertoma has displayed countless light animations for businesses that pay the organization for both the display and an extra fee that is given to a good cause. 

Dave Gowan, Sertoma club member and organizer of Christmas in the Park, said it started small with only 20-25 displays. 

“Businesses would come out here and they would set their own display up,” said Mark Larson, Sertoma club member. “They would keep it lit throughout the park season. So that’s the way it started out.” 

Sertoma club members now build the displays themselves, mostly Gowan and Larson building them. Though many displays are reused every year, they all have to be relit, lining the lights as evenly as possible on each display. 

“You just set your design up like a coloring book,” said Larson. “We’ve got club members that magnify it out, and then it gets traced and welded.” 

Mark Larson, Sertoma club member, shows how the lights are displayed for Christmas in the Park. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)

“We just clip it, wire it, and build it however we want, whatever colors we think,” said Gowan. 

Sertoma has a tag system to keep track of all the displays, with some having up to eight fixtures in one display. Some are also sequenced to fit a pattern, such as a display of an elf throwing presents into Santa’s sleigh.  

“The sequencer can be programmed to do eight things,” said Gowan. “We can program it to go fast, slow, kind of chase, where the lights stay on and kind of fade out. We want them to blink on and off in an order. We have about 25 sequencers.” 

Sertoma uses around 25 sequencers to make the lights in Christmas in the Park turn on and off in order to make a scene. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)

“Christmas in the Park is one of the single, main reasons I stayed, even though I’ve been retired for ten years,” said Lon Drevecky, Sertoma club member. “It’s a community deal.” 

Gowan said Christmas in the Park started with a lot of community leaders coming together to make it happen. 

“It takes a lot of people in key positions to get this started,” said Gowan. “It’s such a fun, good cause. We just approved a $15,000 donation to Trinity Hospital for the pediatrics board for toys.” 

Christmas in the Park usually receives around 25,000 cars for the duration that it lights up, from Black Friday to New Year’s Eve. 

“Everyone gets a candy cane,” said Gowan. “We have 15,000 candy canes and we’re not going to have enough.” 

“A lot of times what happens, and it’s really contagious, we’ll have one guy say pay for the guy behind me,” said Drevecky.  

Gowan said there have been times where the chain will go on for 25 to 30 cars. 

More information on Minot Sertoma Club can be found on its Facebook page

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