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Tunnel of Lights to glow despite no official date

Tunnel becomes corridor because of squirrel nibbling

Staff writer

In what would have been the Tunnel of Light’s tenth annual year at Marion County Lake, no official date will be set for patrons to visit and partake in free holiday refreshments.

“This year is a sabbatical,” lake resident and one of the event organizers Margie Schwartz said. “There was just a lot going on in the neighborhood, including two deaths, and we just couldn’t find a date that worked for everyone.”

However, the Schwartzes and eight other families still adorned homes with Christmas lights and will synchronize their holiday illuminations.

“We still encourage people to drive through the area,” another neighborhood decorator, Lee Leiker said. “Some people have more decorations up than last year.”

Conversely, some won’t put up as many. Most noticeably, the tunnel portion that served as an entryway has become a corridor of lights this year.

“Some are having trouble with squirrels and rabbits eating through Christmas light wires,” Schwartz said.

Though the event’s sabbatical wasn’t attributed to squirrel teeth, they did munch the light strands that made up the tunnel’s ceiling one too many times. The nibbling paired with winter winds and snow accumulation atop tunnel lights was cited as reasons to leave the top off.

According to Schwartz, varmints haven’t nibbled lights that serve as tunnel walls, so the entryway will remain. It just won’t have a ceiling.

“It’s a lot of work to put up all the lights,” Schwartz said. “There are some really big displays out here.”

The neighborhood flicked on lights for the first time Friday.

Schwartz said the plan is for each household to light up at dusk every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until about 10 p.m. for December viewing through New Years.

Last year, the event drew about 350 vehicles and 1,200 plus people, according to Schwartz.

In past years, the event has drawn countywide attendees and people from as far away as Wichita, Hutchinson, Salina, and Topeka to the lakeside neighborhood on Hill Rd. and Echo Ln.

“It’s a shame to miss a year with something that has grown so big,” Schwartz said. “I suppose we will have to start over a bit next year.”

Schwartz apologized to those who might be disappointed and said the neighborhood gets real satisfaction out of sharing a seasonal glow.

Last modified Dec. 11, 2014

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