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COVID-19 restrictions spark changes to ‘Light up the Night’

MARSHALL — The annual Light up the Night event is set to begin Friday with the great holiday fireworks and lights shows.

The event held through the Christmas holiday season is hosted by Prairie Home Hospice and will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at Independence Park.

As a result of Gov. Tim Walz’s recent Executive Order to slow the spread of COVID-19, attendees are allowed to walk through the park at any time, but are encouraged to enjoy the lights and fireworks from their vehicles at one of several parking lots near Independence Park Friday evening. As you watch the fireworks, you can turn your radio dial to KMHL 101.7 FM or 1400 AM and enjoy the holiday music.

Among other changes to this year’s event is the absence of the parade, trolley rides, hay rides, and horse drawn carriage rides. Instead, this year’s Light up the Night event will include more lights and more opportunities to see them.

“We put up a lot more lights up at the park. We think that people are allowed to walk through at any time and we’re actually going to turn the lights on every night of the week so Sunday to Sunday from 5-9 p.m,” said Tara Plante, marketing and development director at Prairie Home Hospice. “The last three years we’ve only it on the weekends Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

Those who plan to walk through the park and enjoy the lights are required to socially distance, except for members of the same household. Face coverings and masks are also encouraged.

A drive through option for viewing the lights will also be available in the back part of the park on Saturday and Sunday evenings from 5-7 p.m. once the trail ground is frozen enough to handle traffic. The drive through viewing option will begin at the baseball field and exit through the back parking lot of Independence Park.

The drive through option is just one of many ways in which Plante and other organizers have navigated tough obstacles to ensure the event can go on for the Marshall community during these tough times.

“That’s the main reason why we just kept plugging away. I mean everyone feels a little brighter inside when they see lights in the dark, so we’re like whatever happens we’re going to get as many lights up as we can,” said Plante. “It just makes people feel a little bit better.”

In order to help support this year’s event and events down the road, attendees are encouraged to make a donation at one of the red donation boxes at Independence Park. Donations can also be sent to the Prairie Home Hospice office at 408 E. Main St. Suite No. 8 in Marshall.

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