Unseasonably warm weather drives visitors to holiday display tradition

Unseasonably warm weather drives visitors to holiday display tradition

With the unseasonably warm weather, it may not feel like the usual Christmas, but that doesn’t mean holiday traditions are put on hold.

Without snow, it doesn’t look a lot like Christmas in a lot of places.

“Actually, I don’t mind too much,” Nancy Nie said.

Regardless of weather, there’s one spot in Madison you can count on to light up the holiday spirit.

“We’re big into tradition,” Nie said, adding that her family often visits the drive-through Holiday Fantasy in Lights at Olin Park.

“My son just arrived. We picked him up from the bus,” she said. “On the way home, I knew the lights would be shining.”

“Everyone loves to see the snow,” said Kelly Slack, event coordinator for The Electric Group, which puts on the display. “Quite honestly, the nicer the roads, the more people are making it out.”

This is the first time in 20 years Slack remembers a season when there was snow for setup but not at Christmas, though it’s not strange to have a lack of snow on the holiday itself.

“This warmth is what is so unusual,” she said. “I love it. I’m enjoying it. I sent the kids to the park today to play basketball, and we can still enjoy our Christmas lights at night.”

Slack said about 50,000 vehicles drive through each season to see the display — a number that’s been increasing in the past couple years.

“I have heard (the lane has) been out to the Beltline a couple nights. That’s always good,” she said. “We’ve been starting to hear stories of multiple generations coming through. It really has become an iconic Madison tradition.”

“It’s dark and cold in the winter,” Nie said. “This is the opposite. These are bright lights. All the Christmas hoopla is fun.”

The display has been free to drive through 1989.

Slack said the next few days are the busiest of the season. The lights will be on from dusk until dawn until Jan. 4.

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