Lights of BN Park ready to dazzle once again

Locals young and old gathered at Burlington Northern Park Wednesday, Nov. 3, to hang Christmas lights for the season. The lights should stay on through the month of January.

Ron Price (left), Dan Sartell and Al Lawrence work to hang lights on the west end of Burlington Northern Park in Wadena on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Christmas lights are back at Burlington Northern Park for a second consecutive year in Wadena thanks to the helping hands of a host of volunteers in the area.

A handful of volunteers from last year's Christmas lighting including Dan Sartell, Ron Greiman and Luther Nervig were back at it this year, except this year they invited more to join the fun. That included three bucket trucks including Todd-Wadena Electric, Legacy Power and the city of Wadena.

The idea for the Christmas lights returning to Burlington Northern Park came following a Crossroads meeting among community members interested in highway construction plans. Greiman, at the time, mentioned one easy way to draw attention to Wadena was with the return of Christmas lights to the park. The lights stopped for a short period when the city decided the task would no longer be on their plate, according to Greiman.

Crystal Blommel gets wrapped up in the light hanging with the help of classmate Madyx Shreves. Both were members of REACH at the Wadena-Deer Creek High School. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal


Prior to that, Luther was involved in hanging the lights for many years, Greiman explained.

"Luther is an energized bunny," Greiman said of the retired attorney and avid community volunteer. Nervig continues to check the lights each day when he's here to make sure they are coming on when they should.

The lights are almost all hung above head height so people can walk through park under the lights.

"Everything's gotta be above eye level so when you look at the park, you are covered in lights, that's the plan," Nervig said.

Greiman was pleased to see the lights come back and has heard many compliments. He said getting extra help this year was not difficult.

"People were willing to come and help," Greiman said, thankful for the help.

Three bucket trucks and a lift means lights will be high above the park this year from the very tops of the trees in Burlington Northern Park. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal


Nervig was glad to have more than a few people working on the lights. In 2020, it took the few volunteers several days to hang all the lights and only as high as their cane poles and contraptions would allow. Oh, and it was the end of November with temperatures around zero degrees. This year with three bucket trucks, a lift, students from the Wadena-Deer Creek REACH program and an assortment of volunteers throughout the day, it was expected to be completed in just one day. A very nice day at that.

Greiman heard from many people including late night truck drivers who appreciated seeing the heart-warming colors of the park light up even the coldest, darkest nights in 2020.

With the work done and the lights ready to dazzle, the group also hopes to keep the lights on longer, including through the month of January.

"It was kind of bittersweet to pull the plug," Greiman said of ending the lights last season.

The lights for this park are paid for using Parks Foundation funding. They have them in most every color and they measure thousands of feet in length.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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