KOKOMO — Mike Wyant, the man behind the extravagant light display at We Care Park, is retiring after 27 years.
"I just thank everybody for supporting me and what I believe in, giving back," Wyant said before a crowd of hundreds on Thanksgiving night.
Wyant tells WRTV, he's retiring because he's gotten too old to manage all the lights. A lot of his long time volunteers have also passed away.
"It's just time for me to relax," Wyant said.
Since We Care Park started nearly 30 years ago, it has raised around $1 million dollars for the local non-profit We Care. Thousands of toys have also been given away and Wyant has made sure this is a special trip for all who come.
"There's a lot of good opportunities out here in the park where you can take family photos. Your kids will have memories forever, forever. I know probably a lot of were kids when you came here and now you're bringing your kids," Wyant said.
Pam Martin, Susan Shackelford, Jeana Willis have lived on the north end of Kokomo most of their lives. This dazzling display of lights makes them proud of where they're from.
"Oh yes! This thing is very important to the community. You see the people out here. Everyone in town loves this," Shackelford said.
All three tell WRTV, they have faith this tradition will continue even though Wyant won't be in charge of it next year.
"We're very proud of this city and we all come together in this community to keep things going," Shackelford said.
As families made their way through all the colorful lights and displays, like they've done for the last 27 years, Wyant had just a couple of things to say to everyone.
"Thank you all for coming. Go and enjoy the lights."
The lights at We Care Park will be up until December 27. The lights come on at 6:00 p.m. and go until around 10:00 p.m. It is free to visit the display. Donations are accepted however and all that money goes to charity.
Wyant tells WRTV, he thinks the tradition will continue because of how much the community supports it.
A man from Greentown, Indiana donated more than $6,000 to turn on the lights Thursday night. Wyant also says another man bought 800,000 lights from his overstock.