Five years later, Electrical Workers’ holiday lights still a big hit with families

Volunteer Bruce Ferry, a retired member of IBEW Local 110, assembles a Holiday Lights in the Park display.

IBEW Holiday Lights in the Park has come a long way since its inception in 2008. What began as a family-friendly way to raise funds for worthy Twin Cities charities has since spawned a concert series and four albums of holiday music, raising $170,000 for its non-profit partners along the way.

But in spite of its success and popularity, Holiday Lights, which opened in St. Paul’s Phalen Park Nov. 20 and runs through New Year’s Day, remains a volunteer-driven community event.

That fact was evident as volunteers from locals 110 and 292 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers went about bringing the show’s “light sculptures and animated displays” to life last month.

Gary Oman, a retired member of St. Paul-based IBEW Local 110, was among the volunteers working Nov. 15 to assemble a display featuring Santa’s reindeer. It was his first year volunteering with Holiday Lights in the Park.

“The union gave me a lot in the 36 years I was working,” Oman said. “We’re just returning the favor today.”

While Oman and other electrical workers volunteer to assemble the displays, volunteers from King of Kings Lutheran Church in Woodbury staff the event each night, greeting visitors, collecting donations and directing traffic through the park.

As a result, Holiday Lights maintains a unique charm that separates it from the likes of the Holidazzle Parade downtown Minneapolis. What’s more, Holiday Lights is easier to get to for many visitors, who don’t have to leave the warmth of their running vehicles.

All net proceeds of the event, as well as CD sales of “Holiday Lights Volume 4” and ticket sales for the “Holiday Lights LIVE” concert, benefit Second Harvest Heartland, Union Gospel Mission, the St. Paul Parks Conservancy and UnderConstruction, a non-profit organization that introduces youth to careers in the construction trades.

For more information on the Holiday Lights event and the music, visit

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