Vehicles make their way through a lighted tunnel at Let It Glow. The event was organized by the Elkhorn Chamber, the Walworth County Food Pantry and the United Way of Walworth County and featured numerous displays, decorated trees and more. (Dave Dresdow photo)

Let It Glow event deemed a success by organizers

By Heather Ruenz

Staff Writer

Let It Glow, a new event created for the greater community this holiday season was a success because countless people stepped up, according to organizers.

The first-ever Let It Glow was held the evening of Dec. 4 and highlights included numerous glow stations, rows of decorated trees, a lighted tunnel, a hot air balloon as well as the opportunity for kids to drop off letters to Santa, the guest of honor who interacted with the children from a distance.

The event came about when the leaders from a trio of area organizations realized they were each trying to come up with ways to make the holidays special for area families in a year when the pandemic had taken so much away for so many.

Spearheading Let It Glow were Tammy Dunn, of the United Way of Walworth County; Chris Clapper and Kate Abbe, of the Elkhorn Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism; and Maryann Zimmerman of the Walworth County Food Pantry and Diaper Bank.

“We’ve always had a Santa reception after our tree lighting but couldn’t have it this year. We all realized we wanted to do something so started sharing ideas,” Clapper said.

Dunn said she’s had the idea for a drive-thru event for some time but this offered the ideal opportunity to dive in.

“It was about giving our communities the opportunity to showcase and be a part of lighting up the town,” Dunn said. “Once we decided on Let It Glow, then it was making those calls and connections and wow, did people step up.”

The event was slated to run from 7 to 9 p.m. but vehicles were lined up by 6 p.m. that night and the last one went through Let It Glow just after 11 p.m.

“It was the first time so we weren’t sure what to expect. Our event page said 338 people were going but 2,000-some were interested,” Zimmerman said.

Though the line waiting to get into and through the event was longer than expected, they said people were patient.

“It was busy but we shifted and made adjustments to deal with the amount of traffic as we went along that night,” Dunn added.

Guests remained in their vehicles though there were a couple of areas they could get out of line to use a restroom, if needed. And that was part of what made the event as safe as possible.

“There are always risks but we weighed those and took every precaution possible,” Dunn explained.

The women agreed that bringing smiles to the faces of so many children was even better than they had anticipated.

“Just to see the kids’ faces and the interaction with Santa … it really gave families a great moment in a year that has been tough for so many,” Dunn said.

“Plus, it was a huge family affair of not only kids and their parents but also some grandparents, too,” Zimmerman added.

The presenting sponsor was the Nicholas D. Sergi Foundation, which featured Dominic and JoAnn Sergi present at the event while the Walworth County Fairgrounds allowed the space to be used free of charge along with footing the electric bill.

Other sponsors included the Treehouse Child and Family Center, Geneva Supply, Evergreen Country Club, Elkhorn Motors, Educators Credit Union, Brunk Industries, The Elkhorn Fund, H&R Block – Jim Stowell, Fine Idea Studio, First National Bank and Trust Company, Old Glory Oaks Farms and JJ’s Pumpkins, Chris Clapper family, Duesterbeck’s Brewing Company, Republican Party of Walworth County, Annie’s Burgertown, Darien Solar, Ranson Electric, Southern Lakes Plumbing and Heating, and QPS Employment Group.

The glow stations were sponsored by a variety of different people and groups and there were many volunteers who helped out.

Clapper said the hope is to have a much larger crew of volunteers next year.

“Numerous people, including young people, helped out this year but we would love to have even more volunteers next year,” she said. “We can use helpers in many areas, from setup and takedown and wearing costumes to interacting with families in vehicles and traffic control.”

One of the bonuses this year was that many gave out gifts – hats, scarves and masks from the food pantry, cookies from Girl Scouts, snowball fights (the “snowballs” had candy in them) by members of the local 4-H club, and bracelets from QPS – as just a few examples.

As vehicles pulled in, there were given a card that asked vital information that came in helpful further along the route.

“The card asked the ages of the kids in the car. That helped Santa and his helpers try to choose age and gender appropriate gifts, which were given out,” Clapper said.

Now that organizers have caught their breath somewhat, they’re in the process of reviewing this year’s event and beginning the planning for Let It Glow for 2021.

“Now that we’ve had it, we’ve already had people say, ‘Hey, I can do this or have this talent or can offer this service,’ so we know it’s going to grow,” Clapper said.

Dunn said they want the event to grow and be more than one day but are in the early stages of exploring their options.

“We have so many ideas, it’s crazy,” Dunn said. “We always want to keep it free – that’s so important to us. We did ask for donations and many people gave, but we don’t want families to have to pay to enjoy it.”

Zimmerman said the event was a great example of people coming together for a good cause.

“All of these organizations were working on Christmas things and we all came together. I love that about it and that it was accessible to people from all over and it can grow,” Zimmerman said.

“It was a community-based event that happened because so many people stepped up,” Clapper said.

“I think it’s the start of something big,” Dunn added.

Anyone interested in getting involved in next year’s Let It Glow is asked to contact Kate Abbe at the Elkhorn Chamber of Commerce at

Let It Glow featured numerous glow stations, which families viewed from their vehicles at the event, held Dec. 4 at the Walworth County Fairgrounds. In the background a portion of Balsam Boulevard can be seen, which featured sponsored trees. (Dave Dresdow photo)


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment