Pardeeville’s holiday spirit shines in Chandler Park

November 27, 2018

Sam Schmehl of Oswego, Ill., can't contain his curiosity about the inside of the iridescent igloo, displayed by the Pardeeville Lions Club as part of the fifth annual edition of the Chandler Park holiday lights display.

PARDEEVILLE — Lori Knapton of Portage says she’s seen bigger and brighter holiday light displays than the one that now illuminates Pardeeville’s Chandler Park, but she’s never seen one with more heart and soul.

“For a community of this size, this is a wonderful, wonderful thing,” Knapton said Saturday, while her granddaughter, Charlotte Heimlich, 6, of Eau Claire, concluded a visit with Santa Claus by munching on a cookie dunked in hot chocolate.

“This year, the entrance lights are just stunning. And all the displays have meaning.”

From the plywood Holstein cows pulling Santa in a farm wagon (Pardeeville FFA) to the big book opened to “The Night Before Christmas” (Friends of the Angie Williams Cox Library), Pardeeville community groups and individuals have banded together for the last five holiday seasons to make the village’s marquee park a holiday season destination whose reach extends further every year.

There are some new contributors of displays this year, including the Pardeeville Fire Department, which put up an inflatable firetruck, piloted by Santa, with a Dalmatian riding shotgun.

Santa Claus, who holds court on weekend evenings in Shelter No. 3, usually asks youngsters who visit him three things: Have you been good? What do you want for Christmas? What light display in Chandler Park do you like best?

“Some of them like the reindeer,” said Phil Possehl, who plays Santa. “Some like the red, white and blue tree. Some like the new red bulbs here; they’re a safety feature, to light the path to Santa.”

Chandler Park features an oval-shaped, one-way road — used, more than a century ago, for recreational driving of the new-fangled horseless carriages. The road allows motorists to view the light displays without ever leaving their cars.

But on Saturday night, motorists had to be extra careful, because a fair number of people were either walking all the way through the park or getting out of the car, from time to time, to have their kids’ pictures taken next to particular light displays.

The Wogernese brothers of Montello — Adrian, 6, and Isaac, 4 — wanted to pose beside the FFA’s “Country Christmas” display, just because they liked how it looked. And Dallas Dreger, 3, of Lodi, wanted to join them, according to Dallas’ mother, Dede Dreger.

Sam Schmehl of Oswego, Illinois, took it one step farther, and couldn’t resist peering into the iridescent inflatable igloo put up, as part of a winter scene, by the Pardeeville Lions Club.

But truth be told, the most popular spot for many youngsters is probably Shelter No. 3, where, when Santa holds court, and free cocoa (from Kwik Trip) and cookies (from Subway) are served.

As Isaac Sailer-Nowak, 7, of Montello prepared to depart, he called out: “Merry Christmas, Santa. I’ll see you next year.”

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