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Church, community clean river bank for Christmas display

You can find more information about the River Lights of Wonder and their hours at https://www.riverlightsofwonder.com. (Patrick Hagan/WWMT)

A community effort in a West Michigan city turned a public blemish into a holiday attraction.

The Riverside Church of Three Rivers wanted to put up a Christmas light display, but Pastor Paul Booko said they couldn't start until they cleaned up the bank of the St. Joseph River near their property.

"That riverbank for so many years has just been an eyesore," Booko said. "Let's clean it up. Get your chainsaws and your clippers. Let's clean that up for the city on both sides and then we'll develop it for the Christmas lights. It was a lot of fun."

Booko said church members and volunteers from the community worked together to clean up the area for light display. Now, they're hoping it attracts people to their town.

"There really isn't much in a community like this," Booko said. "It kind of hit on a spot where, you know, there's a need for this and an opportunity for families to come together."

Bonnie Booko, co-pastor at the church and Paul's wife, came up with the idea based off a childhood memory. The River Lights of Wonder tells the story of the first Christmas.

Light display in Three Rivers tells the story of the first Christmas

"It didn't just happen. Somebody didn't just pay a bill to get it for anyone. It was coming together as a family," Bonnie said. "We wanted to do this and we didn't want to charge. We wanted people to be able to come and just experience Christmas."

For more stories by Jason Puhr follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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