by Cori Hilsgen
The lights around Lake Francis, located on Pinecone Road by the new community center in Sartell, will be shining brightly throughout December to liven up the holiday season.
The first “Country Lights Festival” will debut Saturday, Dec. 2 and continue throughout the rest of the month. Activities planned include an Angel of Hope candlelight vigil (with no electric lights on from 6:30-8:30 p.m.) on Wednesday, Dec. 6. “Santa” and “Mrs. Claus” are planning to make an appearance in the Sartell Community Center. Other planned events include hot chocolate and bonfires, choirs and carolers singing, music by Spirit 92.9 radio station and more.
The light displays will be located on more than 30 acres at Lake Francis Park. Lights will turn on when the City of Sartell’s street lights turn on at dusk and stay on until dawn every day of the week.
The idea for the festival is the brainstorm of Chip Schwarzentraub, agency manager of Country Financial. He had previously attended the Bentleyville Tour of Lights festival in Duluth with his family and thought it would be a great idea to bring the same concept to Sartell.
Schwarzentraub’s co-workers volunteered to help. They are Bill Corcoran, financial planner and insurance representative; Leah McGuire, administrative office assistant; and others with the company.
Corcoran said they hope to add more lights as more people become interested and involved with the event.
“We are excited to announce the first annual 2017 Sartell Country Lights Festival,” Corcoran said. “The Sartell Country Lights Festival committee invites guests to take a stroll through an amazing 33-acre winter wonderland lit by the glow of thousands of lights.”
He said the event is being coordinated through a partnership between Country Financial, the City of Sartell, Amy Legatt/Remax Results, Granite Logistics, Spirit 92.9, Leighton Broadcasting and other businesses and volunteers.
Corcoran said the City of Sartell has been great to work with. As people are starting to hear about the event, many are volunteering to help. One private donor donated money to have outlets installed at the light poles around Lake Francis.
Lake Francis Park is located on Pinecone Road within walking distance to the Sartell Community Center, which is located at 850 19th St. S., Sartell.
Parking is available at the Sartell Community Center and surrounding streets if needed. Visitors are requested not to park at the Chateau Waters senior-citizen apartment complex, which is located next to the park.
The event is free to the public.
For additional information, visit countrylightsfestival.org.
Author: Cori Hilsgen
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people’s stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.