BY GABE LICHT
I stopped by Central Park Monday to get an up-close look at Delano Light the Night.
I had seen a brief preview of some of the decorations in preparation for a Community Spotlight on the event, so I knew it would be a neat thing to see.
Taking in the entire display was even more impressive.
It’s hard to pick a favorite element, so I’ll share a few.
There’s something about old trucks that I admire. Maybe it’s what they represent: hard work, reliability, durability, and usefulness. Two such trucks shone in a new way, with one adorned with 8,000 lights, and the other carrying Santa Claus and a tree.
Then, there were several displays of patriotism: USA in red, white, and blue lights; tributes to each of the branches of the military; and a wreath made up of lights next to the memorial in the park, which was surrounded with lights on the trees. There was no wind when I was there, and it was really meaningful to see a still flag and monument accented by the lights and wreath.
And, I would be remiss not to mention the impressive 12-piece nativity scene, as the birth of Christ was the reason for the original Christmas light: the star that led the wise men to him.
It would be cool to know the number of lights that are currently gracing the park. It has to be at least 100,000. I know the large pine tree near the River Street exit alone must have several thousand. That is quite the sight to behold.
Regardless, it is clear it took a lot of work.
It started in early 2020, and it had such a bright outlook.
Then, the pandemic hit and it all seemed to be in jeopardy.
Instead of letting a good idea go to waste, Dorothy Zitzloff and other volunteers moved forward with a positive attitude, with the support of the city, Delano Municipal Utilities, and about 10 business sponsors.
I’m not surprised to see this type of effort in Delano. Community involvement is high, and many people enjoy volunteering with a smile on their faces.
People also take pride in their community.
That is evident not only at Central Park, but also at Riverfront Park, where the tree is lit; and downtown in general, where it seems like everything possible is lit up at night, from the trees, to the storefronts, to the tops of the buildings.
It’s hard not to smile and have a positive attitude when looking at it.
After speaking out against negativity, immaturity, and divisiveness in last week’s column, I thought it would be important to focus on something positive this week, partly because I was so encouraged by the feedback I received.
I will admit I was nervous writing about the sign calling out Gov. Tim Walz because I had seen such strong opinions expressed on both sides of the issue, including amongst my friends. I am glad I pushed through those concerns because others showed their appreciation for bringing the issues to light and their frustration with the polarization of our communities.
“The quest for common decency should not be an ‘opinion,’” one person told me.
“Thank you for always calling attention to important issues for your readers,” a reader wrote.
Another reader expressed appreciation for the editorial and disappointment in the tone of and outbursts from some community members, which lead to feeling less connected, welcome, and kindred with the community.
The only critique I received questioned why I did not address anti-police graffiti that surfaced in Delano in October.
I was taken aback by the comment because I was not aware of that vandalism, and I wished it had brought to my attention sooner.
I, of course, would have condemned it with strong language.
I do not condone any public displays of vulgarity, especially those aimed at the people who work to keep us all safe.
Such displays do not represent the community at large.
It’s no coincidence that such things are commonly done at night. It’s easy to be a delinquent when you think no one can see you. That’s why it’s important to call these things out when they are brought to light.
More importantly, I believe we have a responsibility to overcome evil with good and negativity with positivity.
That could be a grand gesture like organizing a community event or something as simple as smiling at someone having a bad day.
A little positivity goes a long way.