Downtown’s colorful light tunnel attracts locals


Photo by Ben Jacobs

Junior Sam Ek waits by the holiday tree in Lowell Park next to the lights display for the lights to turn on at 4 p.m. The lights will remain in Stillwater through March. “There’s something that is added to the lights since the lights are free and the ice castles you had to pay to go,” Ek adds.

Ben Jacobs, Podcast Reporter

This winter, the ice castles that take shape in Lowell Park were missing. Construction took up the space and forced the ice castles to find a new location. To fix the lack of an attraction that Stillwater had, a tunnel of lights was made and put up for display for people to walk through and enjoy. The display was set up in time for the holidays and is planned to stay through the winter.

This attraction, unlike the ice castles, is free for the general public and has been paid for by businesses that have graciously donated. The lights can be programmed to change color and there are plans to make specific color schemes during holidays such as Valentine’s Day. The lights operate from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily and will stay up through March. The attraction that the lights display replaced, the ice castles, moved to Lake Minnetonka at the Port of Excelsior. It is unsure as of this winter if they will be returning to Stillwater next year. This could mean that the light display will be Stillwater’s primary attraction in the wintertime.

I think that instead of the ice castles because it is something different, something new for the city,  it will be a new attraction that we can love.

— Adolfo Jara

If the ice castles are to return next year, there is talk of bringing them together to have both a display of lights while also having the ice castles. This combination of displays could have the potential of then bringing in more business to the downtown Stillwater area and doing a better job then what they might do individually.

“I think that lights during the winter in this area are really nice, since we have, you know, eight hours of sunlight. So it’s pretty nice to have something lit up,” math teacher Stephanie Nord said. “I definitely would want the lights to continue to attract more people,”

The tunnel of lights is helping businesses in Stillwater, namely restaurants, by bringing in people during when many people consider to be dinner time. Since people are in the area and are out and about, they may benefit which reimburses those businesses that have donated sums of money to help put up and run the display.

“My family came down to just see the lights and we went down to Brick and Bourbon after looking at the lights,” Sam Ek, junior and Stillwater resident, explained.

People who are not from Stillwater may find that the lights display can draw them in more if they had gone to the ice castles in the past because of the idea of trying something new. The lights display is similar yet different from the ice castles and may make for a new experience that people can experience with family and friends.

“I think that instead of the ice castles because it is something different, something new for the city,  it will be a new attraction that we can love. The city can do it every year and can do the ice castles too at the same time,” Adolfo Jara, Ecuadorian foreign exchange student in Stillwater said.

Though a new attraction, the general understanding around those involved is that it can grow and evolve into something bigger and better as time goes on. It is thought that when construction is done, the pedestrian bridge could be used as a location for the lights display to call home.

“I think it’d be really cool if they finish the pedestrian bridge and then put the display on the old Stillwater Lift Bridge,” Ek said. “That would be cool, just to walk across that and have the lights all around you.”