Illuminating The Holidays
Minnesota man uses massive Christmas light display to raise money for charity.
On the big sky prairie of Western Minnesota, the light show normally ends with the sunset, but it's just beginning in Kandiyohi County.
You might say things got a little out of control for Chad Koosman, the 28-year-old lawn irrigation contractor who is responsible for most of the traffic down a rural road just outside of Willmar.
"This year we'll have a 140,000 Christmas lights on display," he says.
Those 140,000 lights are fed by three miles of extension cords and synced by computer to music broadcast on the car radios of his visitors.
"There's a little technology going on here," laughs Bob Anderson who drove out to see the display. "A lot of technology," corrects his wife Diann.
A lot of technology -- and even more heart.
"Well, I've always had a love for the Christmas lights and the Christmas season," explains Koosman, "but my true inspiration was seeing how the viewers would come out and support the Salvation Army."
Koosman whet his appetite for giving as a Willmar eighth grader, when he offered to shovel his neighbors driveways in exchange for Salvation Army donations and collected 40 toys.
But his spirit came alive three Christmases ago when Koosman spent 110 hours at the Willmar Wal-Mart ringing a Salvation Army bell.
"A little six to seven-year-old girl ran up to my kettle, stuck in a dollar and said, 'and I'm going to get one of those presents from you guys this year,' and really from then on I knew I was doing the right thing by helping out the Salvation Army."
Last year donations tied to Koosman's light display totaled $20,000.
"I've never seen somebody go as much out of their way so much as Chad has, to do something for our organization," said Deb Jolly, captain of Willmar's Salvation Army.
This year, Koosman added Christmas tree sales to his light display.
"It was just another avenue to try to raise money for the Army," he explained.
Koosman may have silenced his Salvation Army bell, but he started making some serious noise when he lit his house on the prairie.