Fantasy of Lights workday brings in community for repairs

Tre' Jones

About 100 people volunteered to help paint, sweep and clean off the exhibits for the Fantasy of Lights displays for the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights annual cleanup workday on Oct. 7 at the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights Warehouse.

To prepare for the 47th anniversary, Dirk Welch, coordinator of the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights, scheduled the workday and said he was excited to see the people volunteer time out of their weekend to get the exhibits ready for opening night.

As part of her scholarship requirement, Mi’Kaila Billinger, Spanish and biology junior, attended the clean up and said she was happy to help the community with this family-friendly event.

While the displays are set in front of Hardin and Akin, the attracts are far enough away from the walkways people can miss details. The clean-up offers an opportunity to engage in community service and meet people that enjoy the attraction.

“I was looking forward to seeing all of the displays up close and personal since we don’t really get that chance when the exhibits are out on the campus,” Cristopher Nunez, pre-dentistry sophomore, said.  “I also enjoyed working with some people I just met and talking with them.”

As far as his favorite display goes, Nunez said his favorite is the Christmas carol one because he “likes how it moves and tells the story at the same time.”

The displays at the Fantasy of Lights are popular throughout the community, and according to its website, about 200,000 visitors come see the displays every year. The different displays range from movies to animals and Christmas characters. In 2013, two new displays were introduced for the first time in almost 10 years, one of which has quickly become a crowd favorite.

“My favorite display is the Toy Story one because it’s my favorite movie,” Billinger said. “I’ve gone to the Fantasy of Lights since I was little, and it’s a nice place for your family to go. I like it because of the holidays, and it makes it even better that I go to MSU.”

With everyone working together to get things ready, Welch said the giving back to the community though the workday builds a stronger community over all.

“It’s a wonderful way to give back because the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights is funded through donations, and every dollar we raise goes into these displays,” Welch said. “The volunteers that came out played a critical role in getting it ready, and it is a very meaningful thing for us.”

The Fantasy of Lights will be open to the public on Nov. 20 and will kick off at 5:30 p.m. and will run through Dec. 25.

Additional reporting by Cortney Wood.