The Grandpa Gang, a group of retirees and volunteers, organizes and designs a Christmas spectacular of cascading lights, tunnels and displays for visitors and locals to enjoy each year. Each evening, the park sparkles against the night sky with 3 million glistening lights, all hung by volunteers and the “gang.”
ALTON — The Grandpa Gang has been at it again hanging lights in Alton’s Rock Spring Park and counting down to the opening day of Christmas Wonderland.
More than 2.5 million lights will twinkle against the backdrop of Rock Spring Park, lighting the way toward another illuminating holiday season beginning Friday, Nov. 27. Back for another year, the annual light display not only warms the hearts of family and friends enjoying a ride through the park, but more than 60 nonprofit organizations benefited last year from proceeds raised from admission to the park. Christmas Wonderland will be open nightly Nov. 27 through Dec. 27. The park is located at 2100 College Ave. Hours are 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The “Grandpa Gang,” a group of retirees and volunteers, organizes and designs the Christmas spectacular of cascading lights, tunnels and displays known as Christmas Wonderland. Each evening, the park sparkles against the night sky with millions of glistening lights, all hung by volunteers and the “gang.” Christmas Wonderland warms the hearts and helps families and friends capture the holiday spirit. Each year, the Grandpa Gang takes time to give back to the community with a portion of the attraction’s seasonal revenue donated to local charities. In 2014, the Grandpa Gang awarded 60 grants to local organizations, totaling more than $36,500.
Every night from Nov. 27 through Dec. 27, visitors can turn off their headlights and let the holiday displays carry them through the magical scene of Christmas Wonderland. This year there will be a new lights display of “Frozen,” an updated Snoopy display and the 12 Days of Christmas display has been refurbished. Even a few of Alton’s historical figures visit, including displays of Robert Wadlow, the World’s Tallest Man, placing the star on the Christmas tree and the legendary Piasa Bird carrying a bag of gifts for the kids.
A special walk-through night will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30. Visitors can experience the lights while taking a 1.5-mile walk through the park. Dogs are welcome on a leash. Admission for the walk-through night is $1 per person.
To complete the magical scene, carriage rides will be available on Saturdays by reservation. Reservations can be requested for rides during the week. The cost of carriage rides is $30 for the first person and $5 for each additional. Reservations for carriage rides can be made by calling Black Tie Carriage Company and Kris Mooney at (217) 242-1104 or Jason Clark at (217) 430-9404.
Have you been naughty or nice this year? Santa will be ready nightly to hear your Christmas list. Pictures with Santa are $5, or you can bring your own camera for a free photo.
The suggested donation is $7 for cars and small vans or $1 per person for vehicles holding more than 10 people. For information, call (800) 258-6645 or visit www.visitalton.com.