MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights -- Christmas night last night for beloved tradition

MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights -- Christmas night last night for beloved tradition

MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights -- Christmas night last night for beloved tradition

The 2017 holiday season will officially begin for North Texas when one of the area's most beloved traditions comes to life. The MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights Christmas displays will be turned on at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, marking the 43nd anniversary of MSU's association with the tradition begun by Wichita Falls businessman L.T. Burns and his wife Lillian in the 1920s. The final night for the lights is Christmas night.

MSU's carillonneur Jim Quashnock will begin the evening's events at 5:30 with holiday music on the Redwine Carillon in the Hardin Administration Building tower. After the lighting ceremony, students from Ben Franklin Elementary Choir will sing at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Hardin Building. The MSU Fantasy of Lights Wind Ensemble concert will begin at 7 p.m. in Akin Auditorium. Santa Claus will join the festivities to visit with children, and free hot chocolate will be served.

In the 1920s when the Burns were newlyweds, they could only afford to place a single bulb on a tree on the front porch as a Christmas decoration. With Burns' success in the oil industry, he began adding more lights and displays each year. He died in a car accident in 1954, but Mrs. Burns continued adding to the displays at their home on Clarinda Avenue and Harrison Street. After her death in 1971, the lights were left to her son, who died in 1974. The lights were then in the care of Archer City. The town offered the lights to Midwestern on the condition that they be operated free of charge as a memorial to Mrs. Burns. A photo of Mrs. Burns greeting visitors is posted near the welcome sign. Today, descendants of the Burns are active in the Fantasy of Lights work and sponsor several of the displays.

Dirk Welch, coordinator for the Fantasy of Lights, said that the exhibition is a tribute to Mrs. Burns and a reminder to all of the joy, wonderment, and magic that is a part of the holiday season. "MSU is honored and proud to continue such a remarkable and cherished tradition," Welch said.

Wichita Falls Independent School District's Carrigan Career and Technical Center continued its tradition of refurbishing some of the older displays. Carrigan students worked on the toy castle, a revolving parade of Disney characters.

New this year are Frosty's Friends photo bench, and a character village of well-known cartoon personalities, including Olaf, Olaf/Sven, Mickey, Minnie, Frosty, Crystal, the Grinch, and Cindy Lou Who with cutouts for photo ops.

Santa's Mailbox

Those special letters to Santa may be deposited in Santa's Mailbox, which will be available from Nov. 17 to Dec. 15 on the Fantasy of Lights grounds. Contact the City of Wichita Falls Parks and Recreation office at 940-761-7490 for more information.

Wichita Falls TUBACHRISTMAS will perform at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, in front of the Hardin Building. In the event of inclement weather, the performance will be in Akin Auditorium.

Admission to the Fantasy of Lights is free. Donations are welcomed and needed to maintain the displays, and to keep the Fantasy of Lights a successful holiday tradition. Look for newly designed donation boxes stationed in the displays. Online donations may be made at


Fantasy of Lights by the numbers

200,000 - Estimated number of visitors to the Fantasy of Lights each year.

38 - Number of displays.

1,300 - Approximate number of man hours spent setting up and maintaining the displays.

20,000 - Number of lights outlining MSU's Hardin Administration Building, Moffett Library, Bolin Science Hall, Central Plant, and D.L. Ligon Coliseum.