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      Inmates help decorate town for Christmas

      Over 40,000 lights will soon decorate the village of Copper Harbor, all with the help of Houghton County inmates.

      Copper Harbor started the holiday tradition several years ago, and the inmates have been lending a helping hand for the past five years.

      Don Kilpela is the mastermind behind the festive design.

      "The reason why I did this is because seven years ago, Copper Harbor, along with almost all of the Upper Peninsula, had a green Christmas. Nobody was coming to Copper Harbor for a vacation. You couldn't snowmobile here, you couldn't cross country ski," said Don Kilpela.

      So Don decided to put on a light show to bring in more people.

      Around 20 Christmas trees are put up in the park. They're cut and then hauled from the woods to the park so that the decorating can begin.

      "The time and effort that goes into setting everything up and spending many cold nights with Donnie Kilpela out here in the snow and the cold, setting the lights up, it's a unique experience and it's something that's worthwhile because once it's all done, you've got something to show for your effort," said Jack Smith, Jr., Copper Harbor resident.

      Four inmates are helping with this year's decorations.

      "They're super important to me, to be honest with you, because it's hard to get people to volunteer to put up Christmas lights," Kilpela said.

      It takes a whole month to decorate the park, and the lighting ceremony will take place December 8.