Although Christmas is still four months away, the Grandpa Gang in Alton, Illinois believes it’s never too early to spread some holiday cheer.
According to Dick Alford, the organizer of the Grandpa Gang, the group initially consisted of a small number of men, perhaps three, four, five, or six, who wanted to decorate the area. They began by adorning a waterfall with lights as you enter the park. Over the years, this humble beginning has evolved into an impressive display of three million lights.
Alford, a prominent figure among the grandpas in the group, is part of a community of Christmas enthusiasts comprised of retirees and volunteers.
For the past twenty-five years, they’ve been responsible for brightening up Rock Spring Park in Alton with their Christmas Wonderland.
“We usually have around 23 or 24 regular grandpas at any given time,” Alford explained. “However, due to various commitments like babysitting or other responsibilities, not all of them can be present every day. On average, about 12 grandpas come to assist us in completing the tasks.”
Recently, Alford and a gathering of grandpas convened to discuss the forthcoming preparations, scheduled to begin within the next month.
The process of setting up wooden displays and hanging lights will commence on Monday, September 11th, starting at 8 a.m.
“We kick off on September 11th and work consistently until a day or two before Thanksgiving. After that, we open the display post-Thanksgiving,” Alford disclosed.
The Grandpa Gang extended an invitation to all grandpas interested in volunteering for the Christmas Wonderland exhibit, which is entirely orchestrated by this warm-hearted group of grandpas who simply want to infuse the season with joy and brightness.
Alford shared a heartwarming story, “I remember two young boys—one of them peeked out and greeted us as the Grandpa Gang. Then the other boy said, ‘We love you, Grandpa Gang.’ It truly makes you realize that your efforts are valued by both the young and the old. It’s incredibly touching.”
If any grandpas or others are inspired to answer the call to volunteer, they can reach out to the Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau for more information.