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.
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.”
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.
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.”