ALTOONA, Iowa — Make-A-Wish Iowa makes dreams come true throughout the state every year and its largest fundraiser kicks off Friday at the Outlets of Des Moines in Altoona.
Jolly Holiday Lights is a light display that started over 25 years ago and became the organization’s largest event, funding more than 1,000 wishes.
“I think it’s like a Hallmark Christmas movie,” said Greg Bellville, the Director of Mission for Make-A-Wish Iowa, “You come down here and you’re just in the Christmas spirit.”
Spectators can see the light displays for free at the outlet until January 7th. There are also some ticketed events to help the organization raise money to put toward granting wishes to children across the state with critical illnesses.
Over 300 children are currently waiting for their wishes, and Make-A-Wish is hoping Jolly Holiday Lights can raise the funding to provide 250 of those wishes.
Last year’s event raised enough to grant 198 wishes, which is the most they have ever raised.
The first ticketed event is a Kick Off Ceremony on Friday night from 6 to 8 pm. They will flip the switch and light up the outlet mall with holiday spirit. A Make-A-Wish child will also be granted her wish, and Santa will be in attendance.
Other ticketed events and activities will also be provided. More information about these activities and ticket prices can be found on their website.
This year is their first year at the Outlets of Des Moines. The event was originally held at Water Works Park until the display was flooded in 2015. The event was later moved to Adventureland Park in 2016.
Bellville said that the new management at Adventureland Park did not allow for Jolly Holiday Lights to be displayed at the resort this year.
Make-A-Wish Iowa used feedback from spectators to decide on the next location. Belleville said many spectators expressed that they enjoyed walking through the display, so they ultimately decided on the Outlets of Des Moines.