Christmas season kicks off

Gray Hughes

The Christmas season got underway in Hill City on Nov. 25 with the unveiling of the Lane of Lights on Museum Drive.

This is the first year Hill City has undertaken an endeavor such as the Lane of Lights with the purpose of making Hill City the Heart of Christmas once again, said Hill City mayor Kathy Skorzewski.

“How did this get started? I moved here and heard Hill City used to be the Christmas capital of South Dakota,” she said. “I asked around why aren’t we any more? People didn’t know.”

Skorzewski said she came up with the idea when she was driving back from Rapid City one day and made a phone call to Brett McMacken, city administrator for Hill City.

Skorzewski said McMacken is “probably the sole reason why this is working.”

“I said ‘Hey, you know how people go down to Hermosa? Everyone goes down there and looks at the lights? And they are awesome? But can we do something like that here? Maybe we could ask the school if we could use the football field,’” Skorzewski said. “And I heard, ‘Mayor, I had this idea a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t told you about it yet, but what about Museum Drive?’ And that’s all it took.”

Skorzewski said it was McMacken who put in his own extra time, his own extra labor, blood, sweat and tears. He was up here at the Lane of Lights at all hours of the day because of lighting issues.

“We are the Heart of Christmas. That’s what we’re going to be,” Skorzewski said. “And that’s how we are going to return to being the Christmas capital of South Dakota. That’s the goal. I don’t know how long it’ll take, but this is just the first of many things that are going to happen.”

Skorzewski, too, took a moment to personally say “thank you” to Janet Wetovick-Bily, executive director of the Hill City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Skorzewski said she was overwhelmed by the effort put in by Wetovick-Bily.

“When it started, it started with an idea and my credit card. ...And then we met with (Wetovick-Bily),” Skorzewski said. “(Wetovick-Bily) suggested that we start looking for funds, and it started with $2,000 that came from Black Hills Energy; $1,000 went into the decorations and $1,000 went to the advertising. And then everyone in the community opened up their heart, and suddenly we saw ourselves with over $4,000, so thank you, everybody. Without you this would have never have been possible.”

Those at the Lane of Lights on Nov. 25 were the only ones this year able to walk it. People were treated to the sights of the lights, which included cutouts of characters from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch. There were lights strung out along the walk and even snowflakes made from coat hangers.

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