The Kiwanis Holiday lights display in Mankato's Sibley Park has brought joy and magic to hundreds of thousands.But they've also been a story of redemption for two horses, which you may have seen pulling a wagon around the park.
Josh Voges remembers coming to the Kiwanis Holiday lights display last year, only to notice one thing that could make the spectacular display even more magical.
Voges says, "I noticed that there wasn't any horse rides."
And so the horse enthusiast found a way to bring a team of mares to give a unique perspective to those taking in the holiday magic.
Voges says, "He called me back a day or two later and said I got a couple of mares I think that'll work out perfect for what you're doing. Come take a look at them. If you don't want them, they're heading to Canada."
Heading to Canada to be slaughtered.
But instead, these mares are able to bring joy to thousands.
Hadley Streit says, "I think it was pretty exciting getting to ride around on a carriage. Those were the biggest ones I've ever seen."
Voges says, "It's a great feeling. It really hits home when you see all the kids and the old people. Our generation, 30s, 40s, they don't seem to miss the horse as much. But kids get a kick out of it. So when you see the kids laughing and smiling and asking all sorts of questions and then the old people. It really brings back some memories."
And if giving the mares a second chance wasn't enough, Voges is also giving back to the community, donating his time and a healthy portion of the proceeds from the rides back to the Kiwanis.
Voges says, "The effect it's having on the community and the people it's bringing it. I'm really proud to be a part of it and I'm definitely looking forward to a long relationship doing it."
And so the next time you ride around that display, you can be reminded of compassion and redemption: two elements that make the holidays a little brighter for all.