Northwoods Adventure: Sertoma’s Winter Wonderland Brings Full LED Display
Over 70,000 lights are shining bright at the Northland Arboretum this year for Sertoma’s Winter Wonderland experience, but how far has this Brainerd holiday tradition come in its 12-year history?
“I can remember checking bulbs literally the night before we opened up,” Steve Mau, Sertoma’s Winter Wonderland Co-Founder, said. “We are a lot smarter today than we were eleven years ago.”
In what has become a holiday staple in the Brainerd Lakes area, Sertoma’s Winter Wonderland is back for its twelfth season, and this year could be the best one yet.
“Over the last five years, we’ve taken about $40,000 and reinvested it back into Sertoma’s Winter Wonderland with the displays,” Jaime Rowlette, Sertoma’s Winter Wonderland Co-Chair, said. “All the displays used to be incandescent light bulbs, and now they are all LED bulbs, and it’s really fun to see how the displays just pop now.”
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the time and effort it takes to put together the stunning displays.
“The displays out here are pretty massive in size,” Mau said. “So, a lot of aerial lifts, a lot of manpower, and like I said, we’ve gotten a little bit better [each year].”
It takes around two weeks to set the trail up, and switching to LEDs also allows Sertoma to save on the cost of energy, which means more money for non-profits in the area.
“The proceeds from both the cars that come through and the sponsors that help support the event, those proceeds all go right back into our community,” Mau said.
All of this would not be possible without the partnership Sertoma has with the Northland Aboretum.
“Without this place, Winter Wonderland doesn’t happen,” Rowlette said. “We are very fortunate that we can utilize this great facility, and we are very fortunate that we can bring people to the Northland Arboretum that have never been here before.”
Sertoma’s Winter Wonderland in Brainerd sees over 15,000 guests each year, and many families have made it a tradition to come to the Northland Arboretum around Christmas time.
“It’s something that I know my family has gone to every year since we’ve been in town, and we see the same faces every year,” Nikki Lyter, a member of the Sertoma’s Winter Wonderland marketing committee, said.
“I recommend the light show, it’s a nice little drive through,” Stacy Oldenburg, a light show enthusiast, said. “It’s always nice to come visit Santa, have the cookies, and spend time with the family.”
Santa makes an appearance at the Winter Wonderland every Saturday until Christmas Day, so be sure to catch Mr. Claus before it’s too late.
Sertoma’s Winter Wonderland is open Wednesday through Saturday until December 19th, and then it is open every day from the 19th until the new year. Tickets can be purchased for $10 ahead of time at the Northland Arboretum, the Brainerd Dispatch, Cub Foods in Baxter and Brainerd, Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union, or Mike’s Tree Company. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate for $15.