Duane Moore: Here's the rest of Jim Moe's story

Duane Moore: Here's the rest of Jim Moe's story


The obituary of James Moe appeared with little fanfare on Wednesday, Feb. 5.

One day later, he was buried with military honors. There was no mention of Santa Claus. Here’s the rest of the story.

For several years Jim Moe sat in a sleigh parked on his front yard on La Crosse’s south side. He became "Santa" while greeting children during the Christmas season.

Just more than 25 years ago he asked whether he might be part of Rotary Lights. For the next few years, he was the only Santa Claus to the children every night during Rotary Lights.

He was more than Santa. Jim collected used television home antennae, welded them together and created the big lighted tree at the entry of the annual display.

He got a company to donate plastic tubing to make candy canes. He showed a group of Oktoberfest Grenadiers how to wrap the tubes with duct tape and spray paint the exposed surfaces red. Today, that same idea is still used to mark paths around Riverside Park.

Moe went to Nelson Flag and Display to get street light displays no longer being used. They were fixed and used. He also made the first mobile displays.

Moe was always looking for ideas to improve Rotary Lights. During a summer trip in southern Wisconsin, he saw live reindeer in a parade and convinced the owners to become part of Rotary Lights.

La Crosse just celebrated the 25th anniversary of Rotary Lights. Jim Moe wasn’t present but his ideas were still visible.

Duane Moore, La Crosse


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