Winter Glow will run until Jan. 2 and remain illuminated 24 hours a day.

Liberty Lake Rallies to Rescue Winter Glow Spectacular

in Featured/Parks and Arts/Things to Do in Liberty Lake
Winter Glow found a home in Liberty Lake after stops in Riverfront Park, the Spokane County Interstate Fairgrounds and Cowley Park.

After five years, three venues and tens of thousands of visitors, it appeared the lights were dimming on Winter Glow Spectacular.

The greater Spokane region’s only illuminated holiday display premiered at Riverfront Park in 2014 before moving to the Spokane County Interstate Fairgrounds two years later. The exhibit’s most recent home was Cowley Park near Sacred Heart Medical Center — but that space failed to materialize in 2019.

“We were done,” said Shirlene Ingraham, Winter Glow’s marketing and sponsorship director. “We didn’t have a venue, we didn’t have money.”

It was around that time that the city of Liberty Lake appeared as the municipal version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Winter Glow boasts 250 displays and over a million lights. The budget for the exhibit is around $30,000 annually.

After a pitch to the city in September by Winter Glow catalyst Rich Reilly, the idea to illuminate Liberty Lake was presented to the city’s Parks and Arts Commission. Vice Chair Dave Himebaugh said the proposal came at an ideal time as $10,000 had been set aside for a pending grand opening at Orchard Park.

“When that idea came up, we said, ‘Sure, let’s put it on the agenda,’” Himebaugh said. “The budgeting amount (for Winter Glow) was the same we had for the grand opening. Personally, I’d seen the display at Cowley Park when I came home from work, so I was familiar with it.”

With the blessing of the commission, the concept found its way to the City Council for final approval. On Oct. 15, the proposal earned enough votes and Winter Glow was cleared for its new home in Orchard Park.

“It wouldn’t have happened without the city of Liberty Lake,” said Ingraham. “We’re so tickled to have it here. It’s such a blessing.”

The latest rendition of Winter Glow Spectacular premiered at Orchard Park on Nov. 23 in front of around 4,000 people.

Winter Glow 2019 made its debut on Nov. 23 as a crowd of around 4,000 gathered in the park under chilly but festive conditions. Mayor Steve Peterson greeted the gathering while Santa and Mrs. Claus made a special appearance. The lights will remain on until Jan. 2.

“We were so happy with how it went,” said Anita Eylar, the city’s activities and events lead. “I think Winter Glow will put Liberty Lake on the map as far as an annual event that the whole region can appreciate.”

With 250 displays and over one million lights, setting up Winter Glow was no small task. Once the installation was approved by council, Ingraham said it was “all hands on deck.” Power to the display was not secured until 3:30 p.m. the day before the opening ceremony.

Around 100 volunteers from Liberty Lake helped set up the Winter Glow display after it was approved by the City Council in mid-October.

Nearly 100 volunteers, including many from the Trutina community, stepped up to help with the chore of turning the city’s newest greenspace into a glowing wonderland.

“I just cannot believe this community,” Eylar said. “You ask for help and people are there.”

Between insurance, storage and other expenditures, the annual cost for Winter Glow runs around $30,000. Sponsors help defray some of that. Ingraham is looking for others to join companies like Greenstone Homes, Gee Automotive, Banner Bank and Yoke’s who have already signed on.

Ingraham said the latest collaboration has been a welcome change.

“We’re not accustomed to having financial support or volunteers,” she said. “We’re just tickled to be in Liberty Lake. It’s such a great community.”


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Craig Howard began his writing career in grade school as the author of a retrospective on the 1978-79 NBA Champion Seattle SuperSonics. Since earning a degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon, Craig has written professionally since 1997 and worked for newspapers like the Goldendale Sentinel, Spokane Valley News Herald, Liberty Lake Splash and Greater Spokane Valley Current. He has also been a contributing writer for the Seattle Times and Northwest Runner magazine and had editorial cartoons published by the Spokesman-Review. He has covered the Liberty Lake community since 2002. In 2004, Craig received the Exemplary Media Award from the Washington Department of Social and Health Services. He has served as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Spokane County Juvenile Court. Craig is a devoted fan of the Zags, Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs. Above all, he enjoys spending time with his three kids, teaching them the finer points of Wiffle Ball.

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