Lemon Park Lights tradition continues in Pratt with Christmas displays
Just after 5:30 p.m. on a rainy Saturday evening, November 21, the switch was flipped in Pratt and, just like the previous nearly 30 years, the Lemon Park Lights were turned on for area residents and visitors to enjoy throughout the Christmas season.
Even though there was no traditional lighting ceremony this year and no annual Christmas in the Park because of the coronavirus pandemic, cars lined up at the park entrance and spirits were lifted as drivers circled the one-mile roadway that took viewers by more than 150 whimsical, colorful, sentimental and memorial displays.
"It was really cool that we had over 450 cars go through on just that first evening," said Lemon Park Lights Coordinator Deb Goyen.
The Lemon Park Lights tradition started in 1992, with 15-20 lighted Christmas displays, all the result of a Deb Goyen-idea approved by Lemon Park's George Lemon.
"I can't really remember the conversation, but he liked the idea and supported it," Goyen said. "I wish he was here today to see what he started."
The early merchants and Pratt business-owners who believed in the concept of a free, drive-through public light display included Stanion Electric, The Peoples Bank, Emprise Bank, City of Pratt, Wal-Mart and employees, Dillons, Lemon family, Pilot Club, Pratt Regional Medical Center, Dillons employees, First National Bank, Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, Kiwanis, Trand, Inc. and the PHS class of 1932.
In 2020, more than 200 sponsors and supporters continue to support the Lemon Park Lights tradition, a free experience for those who wish to make the drive to Lemon Park, or walk the lighted sidewalks after dark for the full effect.
A donation box is provided for those who feel led to contribute to electrical and maintenance costs, but all labor to replace and replenish bulbs and set up the displays each year is done by volunteers.
Goyen said that all displays were up, ready and lit for this year as of Monday evening, except for one.
"We are bringing out a special memorial for my dad, Carter Barker, that is a replica of his old Studebaker truck," Goyen said. "Ron (Miller) is still working on that one in the shed. It's so big we had to get all the other displays out of the way in order to have room to work on it."
Goyen said she hoped the Carter Barker Memorial Display would be up and in it's designated place by Thanksgiving.
The Lemon Park Lights are on for all to enjoy, every evening at dusk, along with The Twelve Days of Christmas lights at Sixth Street Park, from now until January 3 in Pratt.