When it became apparent that the Parade of Lights, a December tradition in Lodi, wouldn’t happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kiwanis Club of Greater Lodi started brainstorming alternatives.

The result is a drive-thru Christmas Light Extravaganza, which the club announced on Friday. The event will be held on Dec. 11 and 12 at the Grape Festival.

From 5 to 9 p.m. on both days, carloads of holiday-makers will be treated to light displays, Christmas music, food, light trinkets, and Santa on his fire truck. The theme for the displays will be Christmas toys.

Food will consist of fast items like hot dogs, corn dogs, churros and popcorn, which can be ordered as cars enter the fairgrounds. The cost to enter is $5 per car.

“About a month or so ago (the City of Lodi) told us that they wouldn’t issue the (parade) permit due to COVID, which I totally understand,” event manager Chet Somera said. “We started trying to think about what (we could do), and we put it out to our membership.”

One member, Tori Monforte, came up with a proposal for a drive-thru lights event. The club started talking with San Joaquin County about a location.

“To this day, it’s still, ‘We’ll get back to you,’ and it’s been six weeks,” Somera said. “So while we were considering that, we met with Mark Armstrong and he thought it was a great idea, and we started talking about dates and times.”

To help cover the costs, the Kiwanis Club is looking for local businesses to assist with sponsorships, but Somera said the event will proceed no matter how many sponsors help out.

“This is something the community needs, and we feel strongly about it,” Somera said. “2020 has been a challenging year for everybody, with the COVID, protests, a lot of different things that disappointed a lot of people, keeping them indoors and everything. I really feel we’ll get some business to help us out and provide sponsorship for us, but even if we don’t, we’re going to do this.”

For an exhibit display application, visit www.greaterlodi.kiwanisone.org. Those interested in sponsorship may email lodi.kiwanis@gmail.com.

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