The drive-through holiday lights show has become a tradition for many and while admission is free, through the collection of pantry item donations, those struggling to feed their family get help. Making Spirits Bright is open to the public from 5:00 to 9:00 PM every night from November 25 through December 31 (closed Christmas Eve, December 24). There are 36 total nights for you to drive through Evergreen Park in Sheboygan which features animated displays using hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights set to music aired on your radio.
Pantry item donations are requested and collected by volunteers at the start of the route. All donated items are delivered to the Sheboygan County Food Bank nightly and their volunteers disburse to food pantries throughout the county. The donations come at a time when need is the greatest so the Making Spirits Bright event is important for so many people. Visitors are reminded that these pantry items may not be consumed immediately so please watch expiration dates (March 2023 and beyond is helpful).
While canned goods come to mind when we hear the word “pantry” please also consider donating personal care items which typically run low at the food pantries. These may include shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, tissue and toilet paper, diapers, and baby wipes. If you prefer to contribute food, here are some of the most requested items: peanut butter, canned soup, canned tuna or chicken, oatmeal, cereal, and canned fruit.
The grand total of pantry items donated over the past ten years is over 850,000 pounds! This is one of the main reasons members of the Sheboygan County Rotary Clubs started the event. They saw a need to spread holiday cheer in combination with doing good for the community.
Visitors to Making Spirits Bright may also choose to contribute a monetary donation at the completion of the route. These funds support the building and refurbishing of displays and other costs associated with the lights show. Even if you are not inclined to offer a monetary donation, make sure to receive a complimentary copy of the event booklet from the volunteers in the igloo.
What can you expect at Making Spirits Bright? When you drive the 1.1 mile route, you begin by tuning your radio to 89.1FM. The lights are choreographed to the music played on your radio. A sampling of some of the displays is Whoville, Magical Igloo, Glistening Grove, and Candyland. The perennial favorites are the Icicle Tunnel, Stars, and Racing Arches. In addition to the lights show, you may even catch a glimpse of the local wildlife that live in the park.
If you prefer someone else drive you through the park, or you have a large group that would like to be together, ride the trolley. Boarding begins across the street at Quarryview Center every Friday and Saturday night; it leaves every 45 minutes (from 5:15 to 8:15 PM) and is $2 per person with children under one free. The trolley is fully enclosed and features old-fashioned style with modern conveniences. Decorative wooden bench seating and the wood and brass interior will make you feel like you are riding a street car of yesteryear. And don’t worry about the weather outside; the trolley is heated to assure comfort.
New outside at Quarryview Center is a miniature version of the light curtain/snowstorm found in the park. This was created so you can commemorate your visit and capture photos, When you have done that, head inside to purchase raffle tickets for wreaths specially crafted by professional local designers. Enjoy complimentary entertainment from local musicians. Purchase concessions such as frosted sugar cookies, popcorn, chips, hot chocolate, soda, and coffee. Relaxing with some refreshments in the festive Quarryview setting is a great way to begin or end your Making Spirits Bright evening. The Memory Ornament tree is also found here and you can purchase a customized ornament for $15.
One of the most popular attractions at Quarryview Center is Santa. He’s found in a setting perfect for capturing an annual holiday photo. Bring your own camera or phone though since the volunteers aren’t able to take photos with Santa.
Quarryview Center is open every Friday and Saturday from November 25 through December 23, 5:00 to 9:00 PM. So each Monday through Thursday, you can drive through Making Spirits Bright but won’t be able to include a stop at Quarryview too.
If you are interested in helping behind-the-scenes, there are many ways to volunteer. The success of the event hinges on hundreds of people who invest thousands of hours. The large scale of Making Spirits Bright means work goes on year-round and there are volunteer options for people of all skill levels and availability of time commitment. For details, visit the Volunteer page on the web site at the end of this article.
Gather family, friends and your pets, and add a trip to Making Spirits Bright to your holiday plans. You’ll discover a new tradition that will excite your spirits while warming your heart through the generosity of contributing pantry item donations to those who really need the help.
Sheboygan, Wis. — The John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC) in Sheboygan, Wis., announced today that it has received a $1 million grant from Ruth Foundation for the Arts (Ruth Arts).
The grant will support JMKAC general operations such as exhibition and programming development, artist commissions, and digital-asset management systems. The award comes from Ruth Arts’ newly formed RDK Legacy Fund, which honors and continues Ruth DeYoung Kohler II’s (1941–2020) steadfast support of regional and craft-based organizations and artist-built environments. Kohler dedicated five decades of her remarkable life to leading and nurturing the growth of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.
Ruth Arts is a Milwaukee-based foundation supported by a bequest from the late Ruth DeYoung Kohler II. Kohler served as JMKAC’s director from 1972–2016, having started as a volunteer in 1967, then holding the position of assistant director from 1968–1972.
“This generous award will go a long way in furthering JMKAC’s work to generate a creative exchange between artists and the public, and to engage in meaningful conversations with artists, fellow grantees, and our community. We look forward to partnering with Ruth Arts to keep Ruth Kohler’s passion for art making and community building alive,” said Amy Horst, JMKAC director.
Through Kohler’s guidance, JMKAC grew from a local arts center to an internationally recognized institution presenting contemporary art, the work of vernacular artists, performing arts, and the work of art-environment builders. In 2016, when she left the directorship of the Arts Center, the board of directors honored Ruth by naming her director emerita of the Arts Center. It was a testament to her tremendous contribution to the fields of art environments and self-taught and folk art as well as contemporary art—and to her great success in guiding the Arts Center to become the renowned institution it is today.
The crown jewel of Kohler’s legacy at JMKAC is the Art Preserve, where the Arts Center’s unrivaled collection of art environments is on public view and available for researchers and artists to study and respond to year-round. The Art Preserve, which opened in June 2021 and is also located in Sheboygan, was the focus of Kohler’s work during the last few years of her life.
More information about the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and the Art Preserve can be found at jmkac.org.
Ruth Arts announced a total of $11.5 million in grants to 138 arts organizations on November 18. For more information, visit RuthArts.org. ... See MoreSee Less