MSU students, alumni run Fantasy of Lights Fun Run

Angie Reay, directory of the Wellness Center, yells out words of encouragement and updates on time as the runners of the annual Fantasy of Lights 5k and 1 mile event loop around Sikes Lake, Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson

On Dec. 2, the Wichita Falls Museum of Arts staff hosted the Fantasy of Lights 5K and 1-mile Fun Run. This is the fourth year this fundraiser has been put on for the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights.

“It’s a fundraiser for Burns Fantasy of Lights that we have on campus at the MSU park,” Angie Reay, Fantasy of Lights 5K and 1-mile Fun Run assistant, said. “It’s a way to help support that event. It’s just a way for everyone to come out and help support the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights.”

Reay also said that a special guest has arrived for the Fantasy of Lights 5K and 1-mile Fun Run.

“Santa is coming,” Reay said. “Santa should be here soon and we also have some of the displays from the Fantasy of Lights so people can take their pictures as well.”

Dirk Welch, MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights coordinator, explained the displays from the Fantasy of Lights. The display is a part of the character village which are by-wood cutouts of some of the children’s favorite characters.

“We have Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch,” Welch said. “We have Frosty and his wife Crystal. We have Mickey and Minnie. We have Olaf and Sven. Those are opportunities for young and old at heart to participate and get a picture opportunity. Normally these character villages are on the grounds of the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights but we brought them out for this event today.”

As coordinator of the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights, Welch said it is an honor being a part of the longstanding tradition.

“It is an honor and a pleasure to coordinate such an important event,” Welch said “It’s a long-standing tradition that was started over 90 years ago on the Burns family property. So it’s a joy to be a part of it and help keep it alive and help create holiday cheer and celebration within the community. It has been a wonderful experience that I am pleased to be a part of.”

Welch said his favorite part of the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights is spreading joy and Christmas spirit as well as creating lifetime experiences for the campus and the Wichita Falls community. He also said Fantasy of Lights reminded him of his holiday experiences as a child.

“It’s just seeing the joy in those individuals that come out and walk through the lights,” Welch said. “I like the smiles and the twinkle in their eyes. For me, it brings back a lot of those childhood memories and some of those great holidays experiences I had. I love to see the joy and pleasure on the faces of those who come out. There are so many lifelong memories that are made and that’s enriching and worth wild.”

A group of participants in the Fantasy of Lights 5k who dressed up for the best and worst costume contest, which they announced the winners before the race out side the Wichita Falls Museum of Arts, Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson

The 5K run started out with two competitions: one for the best holiday theme and the other for the worst holiday theme. There were a male and a female winner for each competition.

“We had the $25 gift card for the best dressed holiday theme for the male and female participant,” Welch said. “We also had a $25 gift card for the worst dressed holiday theme for the male and female participant.”

Jason Slagle, MSU alumni, was the male winner for the worst dressed holiday theme. He said it was a “fantastic” experience being a part of the competition.

“It was fantastic,” Slagle said. “We just came out and there was a group of us. We found some ugly suits at Walmart and we decided to make a day of it.”

This is also Slagle’s first time participating the Fantasy of Lights 5K and 1-mile Fun Run.

“I thought it was a great experience,” Slagle said. “It looks like a good community event. It is well supported.”

Slagle also said that he is expecting to participate in next year’s Fantasy of Lights 5K & 1-mile Fun Run.

“We like to come out and for things that support the community,” Slagle said. “And help fund things for the school. I’m a graduate here myself from Midwestern in 2001.”

The 5K run started at 9:30 a.m. and it ended around 10:30 a.m. Welch said the participants were both MSU students and alumnus.

“We had a $25 gift card for the fastest male and female participant on the 5K,” Welch said.

Ashley Ates, global studies senior, said she had a lot of fun running the 5K.

“This was my first time competing in it,” Ates said. “And I got to wear my Grinch onesie.”

Ates said her participation in this 5K was for a course she was taking at the Wellness Center.

“I’m also doing the C25K class at the Wellness Center,” Ates said. “And our instructor encouraged us to run this too.”

Ates said her favorite part of running the 5K and 1-mile run was getting a lumber bib as well as getting a good work out.

“I got to get a lumber bib,” Ates said. “I never had one. And I got to work out.”

Brandi Hobson, kinesiology senior, laps the second out of third lap of the 5k around Sikes Lake, Saturday Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson

Despite graduating next year, Ates said she plans on participating in the Fantasy of Lights 5K and 1-mile Fun Run again.

“This is actually my final year here at MSU,” Ates said. “If I have time to come down next year and do it, I would.”

Despite finishing second place, Vincent Rodriguez, mathematics senior, said participating in the fun run was “an amazing experience.”

“It’s really amazing,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been doing it every year since I got into college. It’s just a wonderful group of people to run with. You get to challenge yourself in the winter in December. It was really amazing.”

Unlike many participants, Rodriguez had years of experience in running 5K and 1 mile runs.

“I started back in high school,” Rodriguez said. “That is where I was really passionate about running. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still passionate about it. It’s just a lot harder with school and stuff.”

Despite finishing second place, Rodriguez said that he was very pleased with his performance.

“It was gratifying,” Rodriguez said. “I came out here not knowing how I was going to do but I proved myself to be better than what I’ve trained for. It’s just fine.”

However, Rodriguez said last year was his favorite fun run.

“We had gone all through college,” Rodriguez said. “There were some new buildings that we got to see so it was nicer last year. There were a lot more people and they were really nice.”

Welch said the Fantasy of Lights 5K and 1-mile Fun Run was a success due to the participants having a good time and the money that was raised for the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights.

“Talking with a lot of the racers and walkers, they said that they had a great time and very much enjoyed it,” Welch said. “It raised a lot of money to support the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights. That event is solely funded through donations from fundraisers like this. It is important to keep this longstanding tradition alive and people had a lot of fun participating today.”

Welch also said he might be planning for another competition for next year’s fun run — and this competition would be a group one.

“Now that the event is over, all of those that were involved will get together and talk and plan for next year,” Welch said. “Any feedback from the racers, runners and walkers will be incorporated. We will be doing post-evaluation race results and taking a look at it. One of the suggestions is a group competition.”

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2017 Fantasy of Lights 5k and 1 mile

Caitlyn Cremeens, 2015 graduate, and Braden Wood, 2013 graduate, try to get a picture with their dog, Mack with Santa who was played by Wichita Falls COunty Judge Woodrow Gossom Jr. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Caitlyn Cremeens, 2015 graduate, and Braden Wood, 2013 graduate, try to get a picture with their dog, Mack with Santa who was played by Wichita Falls COunty Judge Woodrow Gossom Jr. Photo by Rachel Johnson
A group of participants in the Fantasy of Lights 5k who dressed up for the best and worst costume contest, which they announced the winners before the race out side the Wichita Falls Museum of Arts, Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
A group of participants in the Fantasy of Lights 5k who dressed up for the best and worst costume contest, which they announced the winners before the race out side the Wichita Falls Museum of Arts, Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Harper Gillen, 1 mile participant, takes a selfie with her dad Ryan Gillen, 1 mile participant, after finishing the Fantasy of LIghts 1 mile event, Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Harper Gillen, 1 mile participant, takes a selfie with her dad Ryan Gillen, 1 mile participant, after finishing the Fantasy of LIghts 1 mile event, Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Shawnda Rasco, participant, laps the second out of third lap of the 5k around Sikes Lake, Saturday Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Shawnda Rasco, participant, laps the second out of third lap of the 5k around Sikes Lake, Saturday Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Brandi Hobson, kinesiology senior, laps the second out of third lap of the 5k around Sikes Lake, Saturday Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Brandi Hobson, kinesiology senior, laps the second out of third lap of the 5k around Sikes Lake, Saturday Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Angie Reay, directory of the Wellness Center, yells out words of encouragement and updates on time as the runners of the annual Fantasy of Lights 5k and 1 mile event loop around Sikes Lake, Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Angie Reay, directory of the Wellness Center, yells out words of encouragement and updates on time as the runners of the annual Fantasy of Lights 5k and 1 mile event loop around Sikes Lake, Dec. 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Runners for the Fantasy of Lights 5k and 1 mile take a picture outside of the Wichita Falls Museum of Art before the race, December 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Runners for the Fantasy of Lights 5k and 1 mile take a picture outside of the Wichita Falls Museum of Art before the race, December 2, 2017. Photo by Rachel Johnson

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