Weather Forecast


King of Kings' Holiday Lights in the Park now open

The annual Holiday Lights the Park event, sponsored by King of Kings Lutheran Church, is open every night now through Jan. 1. The attraction is a drive-through trail of 65 light displays including this year's main attraction, an under-the-sea display.

King of Kings Lutheran Church will shine some light onto the Lake Phalen neighborhood this holiday season.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Holiday Lights in the Park, which began Nov. 20, is a drive-along Christmas lights- and music-display, at Phalen Park.

The event, sponsored by King of Kings, runs through Jan. 1.

"Everyone can pile in the car and share memories together," said Lisa Engh, the Holiday Lights in the Park coordinator at King of Kings.

The event is now in its fifth year.


Originally King of Kings organizers came up with the idea for Holiday Lights in the Park after hearing from some of its charity partners that even though they greatly appreciate the number of volunteers from King of Kings, they were also in need of monetary donations.

"We wanted to find something that would bring families together over the holiday season," Engh said.

All proceeds from ticket sales, which are $10 per vehicle on the weekends, $8 per vehicle during the week, $15 per limo and $30 per coach bus, are donated to Second Harvest, Union Gospel Mission, St. Paul Parks Conservancy and UnderConstruction, an educational organization.

Last year's event raised $60,000.

In addition to the Holiday Lights in the Park display, King of Kings and IBEW are also selling a Holiday Lights in the Park album at the event for $10, which includes several Twin Cities musicians including the Blenders, Owl City, Lorie Line, Woodbury resident Phil Thompson and the King of Kings worship choir, True North.

"It's kind of the soundtrack for the event," Engh said.

Albums can also be purchased at Kowalski's Markets and receive a complimentary ticket to the event.

Several of the artists featured on the album will perform at the Historic Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis on Dec. 9.

All proceeds from the album sales and concert tickets will be donated to charities.

"We just try our best to encourage folks to come out and raise as much money as we can," Engh said.

The fact that the event brings families together during one of the busiest times of year is an added bonus, Engh said.

Last year's event saw an attendance of 72,800, which is a 33 percent increase over 2010.

"I think people are starting to know it," Engh said. "It's becoming a Twin Cities tradition for a lot of people."

When organizing the event, Engh said King of Kings looked at a number of different parks to hold the event at, but Phalen Park seemed to be the park that needed it most.

"The neighborhood was struggling a bit," she said. "We knew that park and that area needed some uplifting and light to it in so many ways.

"As we light up the park, people started coming out and started walking around the lake."

Police see practically no criminal activity at the park during the run of the event, Engh said.

Lighting the way

This year's Holiday Lights in the Park will feature a total of 65 light displays.

More than 100,000 LED light bulbs will be used.

Since King of Kings rents all of its displays from the same company that does Rockefeller Center in New York City, organizers are able to switch out the displays every year.

"We want to bring a new show every year," Engh said. "We try to pick displays that families will enjoy."

Each of the 65 displays have some sort of theme including: the Polar Express, Minnesota animals, a giant Christmas tree and even a Minnesota parks and recreation display, which depicts fishing, skiing, in-line skating and rock climbing.

"That's my favorite display," Engh said. "It's one of our biggest displays yet."

The grand finale this year is an under-the-sea display, "Shipwreck Spectacular," complete with a sunken ship and an array of colorful fish.

More than 300 volunteers will be working the event this year, Engh said.

She said she hopes to continue growing Holiday Lights in the Park every year and make it a long-time tradition for families.

"This event is really a true light to our community and helps the neighborhood shine," she said.

IBEW Holiday Lights in the Park runs now through Jan. 1 at Phalen Park, located at 1615 Phalen Drive E., St. Paul. The event runs every night, including holidays, from 5:30-10 p.m. Admission is $8 per vehicle Sunday through Thursday, $10 per vehicle Friday and Saturday, $15 per limo, passenger van or mini bus and $30 per coach bus. More information about the event, album and concert can be found at

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

(651) 702-0976