Lights exhibit opens Friday; features new displays

Courtney Betts

Volunteers help setup displays for the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights
Volunteers help setup displays for the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights

Community members and students will gather around the front lawn of the Hardin Administration Building for the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights opening ceremony Dec. 6 which will showcase the first two additions to the display in almost 10 years.

“It really comes full circle for me because I’m from this town,” Randy Canivel, coordinator of MSU Burns Fantasy of Lights, said. “It’s an amazing feeling to be able to see it, be a part of it and then run it.”

Canivel became the coordinator of the Fantasy of Lights three years ago and in the last year he has raised $20 thousand for the new Nutcracker display. The display features professions in North Texas.

“The community was asking for new additions for a while and it became a popular question in 2010 before I took over,” Canivel said. “People like to see new things.”

Canivel added, “Depending on budgets and donations, we might be able to have more additions in the future.”

A local family built the second addition titled “A Toy’s Christmas” and donated the display for the Fantasy of Lights. It depicts characters based on the movie Toy Story.

“This addition is unique to the display because it features modern characters and children today will be able to relate to it,” Canivel said.

It takes 1,100 to 1,300 person-hours to set up the display every year. People come from all over the city and volunteer their time to help prepare for the event.

“We try to pay the volunteers back by providing them food and that has to come out of the budget as well,” Canivel said.

To run the Fantasy of Lights without adding new displays or renovating original ones, it costs anywhere from $40 to $50 thousand. This includes costs for electrical equipment, transportation and security.

Holiday displays are typically displayed with LED lights, but the Fantasy of Lights features intricate mechanical displays with robotics and story themes.

Canivel said he considers this showcase of displays to be the most unique of its kind because it brings the community together.

“Everyone is involved in this event,” Canivel said. “It allows the community to connect with the campus. Friends and families make it a tradition.”

The Fantasy of Lights was originally displayed on campus in the 1974. Members from the community have spent their childhood walking through this display every year.

“I’m from Wichita Falls and I have been going to Fantasy of Lights since I can remember,” Elizabeth Rogers, graduate student in human resources, said. “It’s so nice to have an event in the community that I can look forward to every year.”

The opening ceremony will commence at 6 p.m. and feature Santa Claus, carolers, a formal introduction by Jesse Rogers, university president, concerts and other holiday activities.

“I hope everyone comes out to see our new displays and to experience this tradition that makes MSU and Wichita Falls stand out,” Canivel said.



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