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More than 60 organizations benefit from Grandpa Gang, Christmas Wonderland

Visitors poured into Christmas Wonderland in Alton in near record numbers in 2017 and that success means financial gifts to area organizations have increased this year.

More than $45,000 in donations has been distributed to more than 60 civic organizations courtesy of the Grandpa Gang and Christmas Wonderland, a direct result of strong holiday seasonal visitors to the landmark Alton attraction.

christmaswonderland2The annual event, spearheaded by the volunteer Grandpa Gang, features more than 4 million lights strung throughout Rock Spring Park, and includes visits with Santa Claus in the Enchanted Forest.

“We are so pleased with the support Christmas Wonderland has received,” head Grandpa Al Cowgill said. “That support means we can help others in our surrounding communities and that is the true meaning of the holiday season.”

Area organizations receiving financial donations from Christmas Wonderland include:

1st Mid America Credit Union
1st Presbyterian Church
5A’s Animal Shelter
AHS Orchestra
Alton Amphitheater Commission
Alton Boys & Girls Club
Alton Education Foundation
Alton Fireworks Committee
Alton Godfrey Rotary Club
Alton High School Class of ‘64
Alton Juneteenth Committee
Alton Optimist Club
Pride, Inc./Gordon Moore Project
Alton Park & Recreation
Alton School District
Backstoppers-Blake Snyder Memorial
Behavior Alternatives
Bethalto Boys & Girls Club
Beverly Farms Foundation
Boots on the Green
Boy Scout Troop #101
Bright Hope Chapter E.S.
Camp Warren Levis – Boy Scouts
Crisis Food Center
Cub Scout Pack 3001
Dunbar Lodge 97
East Alton American Legion Scholarship Fund
East Alton Middle School Student Council
East Alton Rotary
East End Improvement
Friends of Haskell
Girl Scout Troop 71
Gordon Moore Park Smith Fund
Grafton United Methodist Church
Home Depot
Hope Community Center
Hope Rescue
Ladies of Hibernian
Land of Lincoln Honor Flights
Mississippi Valley Christian School
North Alton Godfrey Business Council
Oasis Women’s Center
Otter Creek Historical Society
Phi Tau Omega Society
Power of the Giraffe
Pride, Inc.
Riverbend Animal Shelter
Riverbend community Center
Riverbend Community Food Pantry
Riverbend Head Start
Rotary of the Riverbend
Salvation Army
Senior Services Plus
Scheffel Boyle
St. Vincent De Paul Society
TreeHouse Wildlife center
Wreaths Across America

As part of the annual holiday event, area organizations also vie for top honors in the annual Christmas Tree Decorating contest in the Enchanted Forest. The contest is judged by visitors to the park. This year’s first place winner is Girl Scout Troop 71. Second Place went to Toddletown. Third Place was awarded to Montessori School and East Alton Middle School Student Council .

The “Grandpa Gang,” a group of retirees and volunteers, organizes and designs the Christmas spectacular of cascading lights, tunnels and displays known as Christmas Wonderland.

Volunteers are always needed to help with Christmas Wonderland projects. Volunteer informational meetings are held in August. The transformation of Rock Spring Park begins in September. Volunteers typically work three to five days a week from 8 a.m. to noon helping with tasks like setting up wooden displays and hanging lights throughout the park. To volunteer, contact Cowgill at (618) 401-2939.


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