'Right before Christmas': Winds damage Grafton lights show, hurting annual toy drive

NOW: ’Right before Christmas’: Winds damage Grafton lights show, hurting annual toy drive

GRAFTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- As strong winds ripped through Southeastern Wisconsin, they damaged "Wonderland," a drive-thru holiday lights show in Grafton. The show will have to close for a few nights, but organizers are more concerned about how this damage impacts their annual toy drive.

It's normally considered the most wonderful time of the year. So strong wind gusts overnight on Thursday, Dec. 16, came at the worst time for Kapco's Kids2Kids Christmas.

"Our busiest week of the year is this week, and we were hit really hard last night with with the storms," said Neil Willenson, vice president of community relations for Kapco.

Willenson said last year, 11,000 cars drove through Wonderland. But Mother Nature had a different idea this year.

"It almost looked like a mini tornado had hit the lot," he said.

Organizers closed down and prepared the grounds Wednesday night ahead of the storms. But the winds did "significant damage," which included everything from shattered glass to toppled arches, trees blown away and light fixtures and ornaments not where they're supposed to be.

Willenson said they will have to close Thursday and Friday while crews assess the damage. He said they hope to reopen Saturday.

"This is kind of a devastating impact right before Christmas," he said.

The most devastating part, he said, is the damage will affect Kapco's annual toy drive.

"When they drive through (the light show), the last stop is to see Santa Claus. And right after that, children drop off toys that we donate to other kids," Willenson said.

In 2020, the company collected 26,000 toys, most of which were given to the Salvation Army.

"So we are hoping that our charities -- there's 30 or 40 charities that we're supporting this year -- will be patient," he said. "We know we'll raise enough toys to meet the need, but we need the public to help us."

There are several ways people can help. Toys can be dropped off during business hours at Kapco, 1000 Badger Circle in Grafton. People can go to any online store and purchase toys to be shipped to Kids2Kids Christmas, 1000 Badger Circle, Grafton, WI 53024.

The company also says people can buy a ticket for a later event date or make a tax-deductible financial contribution.

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