ALTON, IL (KTVI) – A senior citizens group that puts on a Christmas lights show in Alton to benefit charities almost had to call it off this year.
Since the 1980s, a group of retired volunteers called “the Grandpa Gang” has counted down the days till Christmas, stringing millions of lights and setting up displays throughout Rock Springs Park for visitors to drive through for enjoyment.
They ask for donations and give the proceeds to local charities. Last year, the gang collected approximately $40,000 with its Christmas Wonderland.
But the event almost didn't happen this year. The hard work proved too much for the group of grandpas. They appealed to the community and grew their dwindling group of 6 to almost 20.
“Most of us were pretty pessimistic that this was even going to happen this year,” said Al Cowgill, the head grandpa of the Grandpa Gang. “So, I mean, there was a lot of back slapping and handshaking and everything else. We did a good job this year and I think it will carry on. I really do think it will carry on.”
The grandpas said they love helping the charities and seeing the positive response from the community.