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40 years of holiday cheer kicks off with three concerts

Courtney Gilder

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Setting up Fantasy of Lights from MWSU Campus Watch on Vimeo.

Toys from the Toy Story movies came to life and danced to the series’ classic “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” as hundreds of onlookers walked through the opening reception of the 40th anniversary Fantasy of Lights display Nov. 24, on the east Hardin lawn.

Freshly refurbished displays made their premier, as well as a guest appearance from Santa Claus behind where choirs sang and volunteers served hot chocolate.

This year children and families listened to music by the Ben Franklin Choir and Intermezzos Choir as they walked around the display, and later that evening in Akin Auditorium the MWSU Wind Ensemble took the stage to play holiday-themed music.

Intermezzos Choir

The Intermezzos Choir was created last year by Joey Greenwood, director of recreational sports, with the assistance of choir co-founders Chris Estes and Josh White.

“I remember going

The Fantasy of Lights in front of the Hardin Building on Tuesday night. Fantasy of LIghts is open November 24 through December 28 on Sunday through Thursday from dusk until 10 pm, and Friday through Saturday from dusk until 11 pm. Photo by Rachel Johnson

The Fantasy of Lights in front of the Hardin Building on Tuesday night. Fantasy of LIghts is open November 24 through December 28 on Sunday through Thursday from dusk until 10 pm, and Friday through Saturday from dusk until 11 pm. Photo by Rachel Johnson

to the Burns household every Christmas,” Estes said. “There was a sign commemorating the veterans on the holidays and I wish the sign made it.”

Estes said members of the Intermezzos Choir are mainly vocalists from Backdoor Theatre, but the Intermezzos only perform at the Fantasy of Lights once per year.

“Who doesn’t love Christmas carols?” Kathy Rios, Intermezzos Choir member, said. “I love to sing, but this is my favorite time.”

University Wind Ensemble

The 35 members of the University Wind Ensemble played nine holiday favorites such as “Sleigh Ride” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” in Akin Auditorium during the Fantasy of Lights opening reception. Each member of the University Wind Ensemble was dressed in an “ugly” christmas sweater. Andrew Checki, music education senior, Robin Tingley, music education freshman, Daniel Espinoza, music education sophomore, and Jeremy Hopkins, music performance junior, were recognized for their particularly ugly sweaters at the beginning of the show.

“It wasn’t a contest,” said Shelby Butler, math education junior and french horn player. “He just wanted the audience to see some of the best ones.”

Butler and Keyton Daniels, music freshman, both said they enjoyed going to see the Fantasy of Lights each year.

“I remember being really little and coming to the Fantasy of Lights,” Daniels said. “Now, I am performing at the opening.”

The University Wind Ensemble will have one more concert this semester at Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Akin Auditorium where, along with help from the Kappa Kappa Psi service band fraternity, it will host a toy drive for the local Children’s Aid for Society. The ensemble and Kappa Kappa Psi will collect toys, gas cards and dining cards for the shelter to give back to the community this holiday season. 

  • Wichita Falls ISD Southern Hills Elementary Choir on east Hardin Lawn| Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m.
  • University Wind Ensemble at Akin Auditorium|Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Evans Fine Performing Art Studio on east Hardin Lawn |Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Wichita Falls ISD Jefferson Elementary School Choir on east Hardin Lawn|Dec. 9 at 6 p.m.
  • Wichita Falls ISD Fain Elementary School Choir on east Hardin Lawn|Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.
  • Wichita Falls Community Orchestra at Akin Auditorium |Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.
  • Fantasy of Lights 5K starting on Hardin Lawn|Dec. 20 at 9 a.m.

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About the Photographer
Rachel Johnson, Photo Journalist
Rachel Johnson is a photographer for The Wichitan. Rachel is in her fourth year in mass communication with a minor in broadcasting. She started getting into photography her freshman year of high school, then took a photojournalism class and a yearbook course where her passion for photography only grew. She has been working for The Wichitan on and...
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40 years of holiday cheer kicks off with three concerts