WIUM Tristates Public Radio

City of Christmas Celebrates 30 Years in Keokuk

Nov 22, 2018

The City of Christmas lighted display in Rand Park is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It will be open Nov. 22 – Dec. 26.

City of Christmas began in 1989 with a handful of displays: Santa’s workshop and house, a nativity scene, an international Christmas display, Toyland, and Santa’s barn. It now features nearly 150 seasonal displays that are built locally plus more than one-million lights.

Jean Meyer has been part of the City of Christmas since it began. She said it’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since the volunteer-led display was first installed in Rand Park.

“I think it mind-boggles all of us,” said Meyer. “It sometimes seems like it’s been twice that and sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday when we started.”

Meyer said this year’s route is a little different. She said there will be a fork in the road as drivers enter the park off of 17th Street and Park Place.

“One fork leads through Candy Cane Lane to the Gingerbread House, ‘Heavenly Christmas,’ and Storybook Land,” said Meyer. “The other fork has Old Man Winter blowing away the tumbling snowflakes and leads one through the glowing red, white, and blue tunnel. Both lead to the Griffin Wheel train, the giant red Christmas Tree, Angel Lane, the nativity scene, the brilliantly lit gazebo, the North Pole, and Toyland.”

Meyer said the new paths mean people should drive through the display at least twice to get a true sense of everything installed by the volunteers, who started working on the display in late October. And she said it does not matter how many times you visit the display because there is no charge to drive through the park.

“And it will be free as long as those of us who are involved are with it,” said Meyer. “I think that’s part of the draw, because it does not matter if you have a dollar in your pocket or if you’ve got $10,000 in your bank account. You can come to City of Christmas and just enjoy it no matter what.”

Meyer said donations are the sole funding source for City of Christmas. There is  donation box set up halfway through the park. Donations can also be mailed to:

City of Christmas, P.O. Box 73, Keokuk, IA 52632

Meyer said more than 22-thousand cars drove through the City of Christmas display last year. She said organizers are encouraging any past volunteers to attend the Grand Opening for the 30th City of Christmas, which is at 6:00 p.m. on Nov. 22.


  • Nov 22                            - 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Nov. 23 – Dec. 23        - 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. (Sun-Thurs)
  •                                           - 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. (Fri-Sat)
  • Dec. 24 – Dec. 25         - 5:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
  • Dec 26                             - 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 27                            Displays are removed