Lighting up the holidays: 15th annual Winter Wonderland kicks off Friday night


Visitors enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride at 2016’s Winter Wonderland at Sportsman Lake Park. This year’s event kicks off Friday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. / Tribune file photo

CULLMAN – The 15th annual Winter Wonderland Christmas light display at Sportsman Lake Park is gearing up for opening night this Friday, Dec. 1, and this year’s display will be packed with recurring favorites and new additions.

Cullman County Parks and Recreation Director Doug Davenport is excited about the new updates to the display and thinks the community will be excited to see some new things this year as well.

“There’ll be a Santa Claus and snowmen and everything. We have some duplicate items in multiple places and we’ve been adding more to it every year over the last four years because it got so stagnant that people decided they didn’t want to come because there wasn’t anything new,” Davenport said. “So, we took that criticism and we’ve tried to make it better every year. We’ve added around $10,000 worth of new stuff. We’ve got a lot of new displays, added the Santa house this year and we’ll have carriage rides over by the putt-putt course. This year we’ve also added a sleigh ride that’ll pick people up out front to go along with the train rides. We’re doing more and pulling in people from the other parks so that we can have more revenue coming in to add to it and keep making it better and better.”

Davenport is approaching the end of his fifth year working with parks and rec and has tried to improve the Winter Wonderland display each year that he’s been involved.

“Really the last four years we’ve really made an effort and a push to carry it to the next level. At some point we’d like to have a place for kids to come and decorate a cookie or make a Christmas card and paint a Christmas ornament,” he shared. “We talked about doing that this year up in the activities center but by adding the sleigh ride and having Santa Claus out here in the snow I just didn’t want to have so much that we couldn’t make all of it successful. There’s always avenues to improve and add things we want to do; we just want to take baby steps and not jump into something without putting the work in.”

It’s a lot of work to put together this display each year but Davenport and everyone else helping to put it together are just happy to see the community enjoy it year after year.

“This is about a five-week process of working to put everything up, but it’s great to see the kids having fun and we want to make it magical for them. You look on TV and you see the old Hallmark movies and that’s kind of my vision. I love seeing people come out, and we’ll have Christmas music playing through the sound system, and that’s our reward is seeing everyone come out and enjoy it,” he smiled. “I just hope everybody comes and everything we make off the display this year will go back into the park, so we can buy more and make it even better next year.”

Winter Wonderland will run from Dec. 1-31*. Admission for this year’s display is $10 per vehicle, and that gets you in for the entire night with no time limit.

* Schedule (weather-permitting)

The display will be closed Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 11-12.


Wednesday and Thursdays, open from 5-9 p.m.

Fridays and Saturdays, open from 5-10 p.m.

Sundays, open from 5-9 p.m.

Santa will only be part of the display until the 23rd.

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