Fantasy Lights open Thanksgiving Day

The Pacific Northwest’s largest holiday light drive-through event opens Thanksgiving Day. Pierce County Parks and Recreation’s 13th annual Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park is expected to be viewed by more than 125,000 appreciative adults and children by the time it closes on New Year’s Eve.
The colorful light show will be open seven days a week from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the gate for $13 per car/mini-van or $45 for a 15-passenger or larger vehicle. Advance discount tickets cost $10 per car/mini-van and may be purchased at the Lakewood Community Center, Sprinker Recreation Center in Spanaway or in the Garfield Bookstore at PLU in Parkland or on-line through PLU at .
Featuring more than 300 elaborate displays and thousands of sparkling lights, the 2-1/4 mile route along the shores of Spanaway Lake has become a memorable holiday tradition for families in the Puget Sound area and other parts of Washington. New attractions include Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Poinsettia Ave, Fantasy Cattle and Sant’s Elf Town featuring the Train Station Spectacular.
“Fantasy Lights has developed into a signature event and has created many family traditions,” said Recreation Supervisor Wendi Garrison. “Our staff takes pride in making this event something the community can enjoy year after year. It is a great feeling to know we are being appreciated for our efforts and, more importantly, that the public sees Fantasy Lights as an important community asset.”
In 2005, the Washington Recreation and Parks Association presented Pierce County Parks and Recreation the Spotlight Events Program of Excellence Award as the top special event in the State of Washington for 2005.
One of the things that makes Fantasy Lights unique in the Northwest is the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds from the warmth and comfort of one’s own vehicle. Visitors of all ages are treated to the magical world of animation and imagination where bears play the drums, Santa flies an airplane, a sea serpent breathes fire, Mount St. Helens erupts, Santa and Rudolf sail a tall ship, and reindeer leap over cars. Holiday music by local junior high schools, high schools, and others can be tuned into on the FM dial while admiring the lights.
“Partnerships formed with local businesses, community service groups, junior and senior high schools, and local technical colleges have allowed Fantasy Lights to grow into a major community event,” Garrison said. Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and the Shark Attack were created by Bates Technical College staff and students, while Happy Holidays Bear and Stuffed Stocking added to the Toyland section were built by Clover Park Technical College staff and students. Enhancements to displays including Poinsettia Ave and the Marching Penguins were provided by Puyallup High School and Rogers High School students.
When Fantasy Lights was introduced to the public 13 years ago, Parks and Recreation wanted to create a program that would showcase one of Pierce County’s most beautiful parks during the winter months. The program needed to be affordable, family focused, appealing to all age groups, and something that could help create a true sense of community between the citizens, local business, and service groups. It also needed to be a program that was not currently being offered locally and something that could become a regional success over time.
“Fantasy Lights is an opportunity for the community to come together to share the joy of the holiday season,” said Parks and Recreation Director Kathy Kravit-Smith.
The 2006 drive-through featured over 290 displays and drew nearly 19,500 vehicles and 117,000 spectators during the 39-night event.