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86,000 bulbs, movie-night specials highlight Salvation Army fundraising effort

THE EFFORT Chad Koosman's home near Eagle Lake, above, boasts nearly 86,000 light bulbs this year. Koosman is attempting to raise $5,000 for The Salvation Army by hosting movie events this weekend at his home. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

Chad Koosman has doubled the number of Christmas lights he has on display at his home near Eagle Lake, and he's inviting folks over to look at the lights and for a movie each evening this weekend. And it's all to benefit the Salvation Army. Koosman told the Tribune last December he'd double the lights at his place and he now says he's pretty close to meeting that goal. This year, there are 85,600 light bulbs, plus more than two miles of extension cords, in the display, which he estimates took about 600 man hours to build and put on display.

"It took a lot of time and a lot of extension cords," he said Thursday. And about that electric bill that'll come in January, "that doesn't matter; it brings joy to families and raises money for the Salvation Army," Koosman added.

The goal is to raise $5,000 for the Salvation Army, which provides needy families with basics like food, clothing, personal hygiene items, utility payments and rent, according to Lt. Aubrey Robbins. So far, Koosman's display, which includes a synchronized light and music show, has raised about $3,000.

This weekend, Koosman is showing movies on a 24-foot screen and anyone is invited to come to the drive-in theater created on two empty lots near his home. Tonight is "The Muppet Christmas Carol" and Sunday's movie is "Christmas Vacation." Both start at 7 p.m.

Saturday's activities include horse and carriage rides to get a close view of the Christmas lights, plus pictures with Santa Claus and a snowball toss (weather permitting) from 4 to 7 p.m. Then at 7:30 p.m., the drive-in movie is "Elf."

The movies' sound tracks will be transmitted via a FM transmitter to surrounding car stereos. The frequency is 88.7 FM.

Popcorn and other refreshments will be provided from the Salvation Army's disaster canteen truck. All movie-goers need to do is flip on their dome light and someone will come to the vehicle, take their order and then bring the refreshments out to them, Robbins said.

All that's asked is that those enjoying the show, the lights and the activities make a donation into the Red Kettles. The light display is at 3903 60th Ave. N.E. To get there from Willmar, take County Road 9 past the high school and the Eagle Lake Public Ramp. Just look for the glow at the corner of County Roads 9 and 26.

Get more information and to watch a video of the synchronized light show at Koosman's home at

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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