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Marshfield Rotary Winter Wonderland will be held this year

Marshfield’s annual Rotary Winter Wonderland holiday lights display, which raises funds and collects items for food pantries throughout Central Wisconsin, will continue the tradition in its 15th year.

“We believe that providing a full display is the right thing for our community,” said Al Nystrom, RWW cochain. “The food and cash donations are critical to sustain the area food pantries at a time when so many of our neighbors are struggling. Further, Winter Wonderland provides a joyful and peaceful respite from the stress of daily life. In turbulent times, we think this project is good for the soul and the morale of our community.”

“In partnering with local health officials, we have figured out a way to safely put on this project and give the community something bright to look forward to at the end of what some may consider a very dark and challenging year,” added Danielle Nystrom, chairperson. “The food pantries need our support now more than ever.”

The display will have a new look this year, including an extended drive-through route for those not willing or able to walk though.

“We are also making changes to the interior to encourage social distancing,” said Al. “There will be a one-year pause in some of our favorite activities and displays to avoid concentrations of visitors in small spaces. But trust me, there will be plenty to see!”

A lot of discussion went into the decision to maintain a walk-through attribute at this year’s display.

“Six months ago we started talking about what the right thing to do was. As with other events this year, the uncertainty of what the next year was going to bring was something that we struggled with,” said Danielle. “However, with support of key agencies we felt confident in our decision to bring this project to life again this year.”

“We had many long discussions about the scope of the project,” said Al. “These included meetings with the Wood County Health Department, City Officials and Marshfield Clinic Health System to discuss safety protocols. Their strong support and encouragement gave our leaders confidence to go forward. In the end, both Rotary Boards and our leadership team were very enthusiastic about our plan.”

There are multiple ways to get involved with Rotary Winter Wonderland this year, including the “We CAN Do It” campaign. This campaign encourages businesses and organizations to collect non-perishable food items, submit the number of items collected with a photo, and be entered to win a pizza party. (For every 50 items collected, the organization will receive an entry into the drawing for a $200 pizza party gift card.) “We are hopeful that businesses will participate in our friendly competition and host food drives at their various locations,” said Danielle.

Hundreds of volunteers are also needed to help build the displays, which will begin construction in October. If you or your group would like to be involved, contact Rotary Winter Wonderland at No special skills are required.

Everyone in the community can assist simply by visiting the display and donating. Since its origins, Rotary Winter Wonderland has collected nearly 700,000 items for local food pantries.

“I look forward to Winter Wonderland 2020 being a source of donations for Soup or Socks this year,” said Cheryl Hartl, Director of Soup Or Socks in Marshfield. “Soup or Socks appreciates all the time and work involved in bringing this project to Marshfield every year.”

“As always, we encourage the community to rally around our mission to ‘feed the need’,” said Danielle. “When visiting Winter Wonderland this year, give what you can to help those less fortunate in our communities.”

Rotarians remain hopeful that this year will mark another successful year of fundraising for and supporting local food pantries.

“I truly think this will be one of our most successful seasons yet,” said Danielle. “This project will give everyone something to look forward to and will allow for some family traditions to safely continue!”