About Us / History

Magical … Enchanting … An Oshkosh Holiday Tradition!

Learn more about Oshkosh COL 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

The 20th Annual Oshkosh Celebration Of Lights!

Each year, the spirit of the Holiday Season magically generates enough power to light our lights – and loved ones faces with smiles!

In 2020, the event attracted over 16,000 vehicles, filled with family and friends who are amazed to see over a million twinkling lights. The 1.2 miles of holiday sights and sounds are displayed throughout beautiful Menominee Park, enhanced by the colorful light reflections from Lake Winnebago. Sights and activities include the 100 foot tree, one-hundred twenty plus trees filled with lights, sculptured scenes, animated light displays, Visits With Santa, COL Gift Shop (with its own entrance this year), special event nights, carriage rides and so much more.

COL visitors can tune in to either Oshkosh Media (101.9 FM) or WRST (90.3 FM), depending on the night. These two stations will play holiday music throughout the park, as you drive through the displays. At the end of the route, visitors will get to enjoy two colorful musical animated pixel light displays.

We hope you enjoy our show this year and welcome all community involvement. The more involvement and help we get with this event, the merrier … ho, ho, ho!

The Oshkosh Celebration of Lights was a dream of Tom Stephany, former Oshkosh Parks Dept. Director

Tom saw a holiday lights display in Texas, that inspired him to create one in Oshkosh. As a member of Oshkosh Rotary Southwest, Tom recruited an enthusiastic and energetic group of fellow Rotarians to help him make his vision a reality.  The original group consisted of Karen Fredrick, Bob Hernke, Craig Burnett, Wendy Hielsberg, Jenny Biese and Bob Heinz. Through this project Tom wanted to create a partnership between the Celebration of Lights and the Parks Department. Over the years, both groups have formed a partnership that has benefited from COL donating funds to upgrade the electrical infrastructure, at Menominee Park, which also helps other festivals and events that are held there.

Tom Stephany passed away on August 25, 2011. A plaque is displayed in the park and in addition, The Tom Stephany Bridge of Lights, is to honor the man who loved the Oshkosh Parks and worked tirelessly to create an event that brought the community together.

Through the efforts of our volunteers, sponsors and our community, this bright idea, because of our joint efforts, is now one of the largest, and most dazzling light show in the Midwest! Let’s continue to improve and keep this Oshkosh Holiday Tradition shining bright!



NIGHTLY FOOD DRIVE FOR LOCAL FOOD PANTRIES: Nearly 7 tons of food has been collected annually with a total well over 120 tons donated since COL began. This year a sealed hygiene item appreciated. No food donations please.

OLD GLORY MILITARY: Honor Flights Each year funds are donated to help veterans to go to Washington D.C. to see their respective memorials.

OSHKOSH HUMANE SOCIETY: Sponsored by Lakeside Animal Hospital. Items collected to help the Humane Society in their work finding homes for animals. Item suggestions: dry cat or dog food, bleach, kitty litter, paper towels, pet treats and pet toys.

OSHKOSH ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY: Would like to collect cash donations to buy necessary supplies for the Menominee Park Zoo.

TOYS FOR TOTS PROGRAM: Sponsored by Fox Communities Credit Union. Visitors are asked to bring new, unwrapped toys to be distributed to less fortunate children in the Oshkosh area.

2021 Committee Members

Alina Peterson
Becky Kissinger
Ben Thompson
Bill Christianson
Bob Beckstrom
Brenda Luethy
Cheryl Schamens
Corky Abraham
Devon Hudak
Doug Dickson
Dylan Brown
Earl Schmoll
Fred Oates
Herb Ringeisen
Jason Kramer
Jeremy Thompson
Jodi Jensema
Jodi Vandermolen
Jon Stenerson
Karen Fredrick Jacobsen
Katie Hoxtell
Kelly Straveler
Leon Thompson
Michael Abraham
Mike Deaton
Nancy Reichenberger
Norm Reichenberger
Paul Laurent
Phyllis Kratzer
Scott Laurent
Stan Meyer
Steve Bradshaw
Ted Allen
Tracy Berg
Wendy Thompson

Are you interested in becoming an Oshkosh COL Committee Member? We could use your help! CLICK HERE

Thank you 2021 Oshkosh Celebration of Lights Sponsors!
(Click on sponsor logo to visit their website!)