It's a holiday tradition for our group of friends: the annual Christmas Light Tour and party. I look forward to it for a month. Not only a night to be spent with some of the best people I've ever known, but also a chance to get out and see some of the decorations that people have put up on their houses and in their yards.

We saw some pretty impressive light displays, but from my seat at the back of the bus, I couldn't even tell you what area of town we were in, to say nothing of what the street name was. My favorite of the night for home displays was one done completely in red lights. HUGE, full yard plus house display. If you've driven by it, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Our trip also includes a few stops at local watering holes, plus a trip through Falls Park and the Winter Wonderland. We were lucky and found a parking spot so the 17 of us piled out of the bus to stretch and take in the view and all the hard work that goes into lighting up the park.

Once back on the bus and the tour continuing, the discussion started on what the cost to the city was and was it worth it. I honestly have no idea what it costs in man hours to set everything up, how much it costs to run the lights each night, how much it will cost to tear it down and store it all...and I don't care. If the mayor and city council have budgeted $100,000 to cover the costs, it's well worth it.

The sense of community I got while watching the line of headlights coming through, to watching kids playing in the snow under the displays, to thinking about the economy stimulation as people not only from Sioux Falls, but all the towns around us and maybe even some families from Brookings to Elk Point to Mitchell to Worthington, coming over to shop, see the display, and have dinner before returning home. It's worth it.

Thank you to the mayor, the city council, downtown Sioux Falls and everyone that makes the Winter Wonderland possible. We (or at least MOST of 'we') had a great time and look forward to seeing next years display!