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Lisa Paxton, Chamber CEO
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Kathi Nagorski
Kathi Nagorski
Shannon Janco
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Holy Holm
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Winter Wonderland First Night First Year

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The wonder makes it worthwhile
Augustinack recalled the personal rewards that made all the time and effort meaningful.

“Think back to one of those first times when someone you watched (saw Winter Wonderland for the first time) … how magical it felt,” Augustinack said to Mau and Rubin.

Mau picked up on Augustinack’s comment, how magical it felt “when they actually saw the vision that we had been trying to paint for so many months – so many years. And they go through it and say, ‘Wow, this is really cool’”.

“That first year it was just, it was magical,” Mau said.
On opening night, vehicles were lined up for two miles as people awaited the opportunity to view Winter Wonderland.

Augustinack remembered revealing the light display to his 3-year-old nephew. “Just the oohs, ahhs and giggles …” Augustinack said, “That was special.”

Winter Wonderland is a holiday experience like no other in the region.

“It was like a warm, fuzzy feeling,” Mau said. “People coming out of here just glowing, saying they had been to other places but this place was the best.”

“It became something fun … really for the whole family, that was special,” Mau said.

“It was meant to be a family tradition that would start and so far we’ve heard a lot of families say that it’s become a tradition for them,” Augustinack said.

But it’s not just the enjoyment by visitors that makes Winter Wonderland magical, the Sertomans said. It’s also the opportunity to monetarily give back to the community and the ability to bring groups of volunteers together.

The Sertoma Club, given the startup costs associated with Winter Wonderland, didn’t expect to be able to start giving back to the community through donations within the first three years. However, the community interest and support was underestimated. To date, the Brainerd Area Sertoma Club has awarded $60,000 through grants and donations to Brainerd area charitable organizations.
And each year, hundreds of volunteers – other service club members, youth groups, individuals -- make Winter Wonderland happen.

“There are thousands of hours that go into making this possible,” Mau said.



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