River Lights of Wonder 2018 Recap

Christmas may be over, but we are are still celebrating! River Lights of Wonder was a huge success for our first year! Thank you to all who generously donated and gave of their time to the vision: To offer families a meaningful Christmas Experience, free of charge. Thousands drove and walked through to see the lights reflect off the water on the St. Joseph River. They also heard the story of the first Christmas.We are looking forward to what next year holds for expanding. If you would like to play a role in helping next year’s vision come true, we appreciate your prayers and financial gifts.

 
 
rlow-entrance.jpg
 
 

Thank you, City of Three Rivers!

We want to thank the City of Three Rivers for their support in helping the River Lights of Wonder be such a great experience in 2018! We appreciate the positive and helpful ways they came alongside us to carry out a pioneer vision. The result was thousands of visitors coming to Three Rivers to experience the festive and reflective lights on the river.

 
 
nativity.jpg

Highlights

  • Great unity and people getting the vision to help families experience Christmas.

  • Community pride!

  • Great and free coverage from WWMT Channel 3 News and local papers. Click the following links to check out some of that coverage! Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

  • People traveled here from distant areas such as Holland, MI, Allegan, Detroit and various Indiana cities.

  • “Candy Cane Maze” was a fun Family activity that was used every night!

 
 
lights-wide.jpg
 
 

The heart behind this vision

  • The original idea came from a childhood memory of being in a struggling family at Christmas time and finding Christmas lights.

  • A passion of Riverside Church is to strengthen families (especially struggling families) in our community and surrounding cities.

  • We already knew that families love to drive to places where they can see Christmas lights and understood the need for free events in our community.

  • A desire to see the city of Three Rivers become a “Place to Go" for Christmas attractions in Southwest Michigan and Indiana.

 
 

HOW DID WE DO IT in 2018?

  • The vision was to offer families a drive-through and walk-through experience to see festive Christmas lights reflecting off of the St. Joseph River. It was to be free of charge.

  • We shared the vision to our church members and gave donors the opportunity to give. Even children gave toward the vision! The goal was to raise $30,000. We raised $27,000 and spent $29,000 within a 3 month period.

  • Our electrical power source for 2018 came from our newly purchased Hope United House.

  • We were granted permission from property owners (including the DRC and Wards) to use their land on the river’s edge to construct our trees and mountain range of lights. Everyone was extremely cooperative!

  • We had licensed electricians and professionals who gladly donated their skills.

  • We rallied countless volunteers (including gentlemen from the probation center) to clean up the river’s edge and however else they could help.

  • We hosted a free Family Day, which was a great success! It included sleigh rides, animals, refreshments, a Candy Cane Maze, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and children’s indoor and outdoor activities.

sleigh.jpg
 
 

WHAT CHALLENGES Did We Face?

  • Lack of electrical outlets. We had to manually set up and tear down generators across the property every night!

  • Our biggest fear was vandalism. The results were none! Maybe one extension cord came up missing. We did notice that our neighbors were very proud and happy about the lights. At times they even pitched in to help.

  • The River Road’s condition was poor and unsafe for walkers.

  • Parking spots were hard to find on nights when we had other events happening at the church.

 
 

2019 Vision for River Lights of Wonder

  • Add more lights.

  • Continue lights on the St. Joseph River towards the bridge.

  • Flood Lights on bridge with city permission and perhaps funds.

If you would like to give toward next year’s vision for River Lights of Wonder, press the link below.