Grandpa Gang continues holiday lights tradition

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ALTON, Ill. – Some might say they’re getting up there in age while others would say they get it all together.

Credit a group of grandpas with keeping things running smoothly at Christmas Wonderland in Rock Springs Park.

The Grandpa Gang is made up of retirees who volunteer their time starting in September to put up Christmas lights and displays for residents to enjoy during the holiday season while driving through the park.

“There’s a sign here somewhere that says ‘dim your lights’ so we ask, it’s all one-way; there’s no oncoming traffic. And if you can turn your lights off, you’ll enjoy it better,” said Albert Cowgill, founder of the Grandpa Gang.

The Alton tradition is a shining example of what happens when community members pitch in where they live.

“It’s $7 a vehicle and a dollar for every person on a bus. We keep a little bit for ourselves and we returned about $50,000 to the community,” Cowgill said.

Christmas Wonderland runs nightly in Rock Springs Park from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

The volunteers will take them down the lights and displays in January and February.

“After Christmas, a lot of guys take off for Florida,” Cowgill said. “They’re that age; they want to be in the warm weather.”

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