By Louis Hoglund

A view of the lighted suspension bridge during the first year of the holiday project, in 2022.

The Pelican Rapids suspension bridge will again be decked out in holiday finery, but bigger and brighter for Christmas season 2023. 

The lighted bridge was a hit in its first year, the 2022 holidays. The project was coordinated in large part by Pelican Rapids school volunteers, and the effort will continue this year. 

Outlining a plan for more electrical fixtures and outlets on the bridge, at the August 30 Pelican Rapids City Council meeting, were Pelican school Dean of Students Doug Bruggeman and retired teacher Jim Christianson. 

They envision a festively-lit holiday “village” in the city parks—named after the community icon: “Peteyville.”

The pair also proposed lighting up the brand new pedestrian bridge, above the World’s Largest Pelican and Pelican Pete’s new perch on the south side of the Pelican River. 

There is electricity available, but outlets need to be installed at various points along the bridge, explained Christianson and Bruggeman, who have also consulted with Minnesota Power on the project. 

Outlining plans to expand the holiday lighting displays in the city parks and on the bridges, Doug Bruggeman and Jim Christianson at the Pelican Rapids City Council meeting Aug. 29.

Envisioned are two light-decorated bridges, with families and businesses invited to create holiday displays on city park land between the two bridges. 

Local electrical firm, Grove Lake Electric, has been contacted for an estimate on installing new outlets.  The fixtures would have a door and lock feature, so they can be secure when not in use. 

Bruggeman explained that last year, the decorators relied on solar-powered holiday lights. But “they didn’t pop as much as we’d like,” said Bruggeman, noting that electric power would provide a more vivid display—not dependent on the sun. 

The council voted to endorse the project, but final action to approve city expenses related to the holiday lights will be acted on after installation cost estimates are completed. 

“We will be looking for other groups to join the school in our growth of Peteyville this year,” noted Bruggeman after the city meeting. 

“We will be lighting both bridges. The Pelican Pete nest and the suspension bridge. We are also planning on putting 5 to 6 lighted arch tunnels on the walkway between the two bridges and decorate a pine tree or two,” added Bruggeman.