MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights to open Nov. 22

Beloved tradition returns to brighten holidays

MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights to open Nov. 22

A beloved Wichita Falls tradition will once again brighten the holiday season. The MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights will light up the night at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22, on the front lawn of Midwestern State University’s Hardin Administration Building.

This year marks the 48th anniversary of MSU Texas’ association with the tradition begun by Wichita Falls businessman L.T. Burns and his wife Lillian in the 1920s.

Festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m. with MSU carillonneur Jim Quashnock playing holiday music on the Redwine Carillon in the Hardin tower. At 6 p.m., MSU Texas Interim President James Johnston will flip the switch to illuminate the Hardin lawn and bring to life the more than 40 lighted scenes and animated displays.

Santa Claus is expected to make the trip from the North Pole for photos.

Live entertainment returns to the lights with MSU Texas musical ensembles presenting a Fantasy of Lights concert at 7 p.m. in Akin Auditorium.

Wichita Falls Independent School District’s Career Education Center continued its tradition of contributing to the Fantasy of Lights by performing structural work on Peter Pan’s ship and the Texas nutcracker carousel. Former Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas programs director Mary Helen Maskill performed extensive paint and fiberglass work on several characters.

During the community work day Oct. 2, many displays received a fresh coat of paint. Most noticeable is Cinderella’s coach, which for many years was pink. Students in the Priddy Scholars program painted the coach light blue, which more closely matches the color depicted in the 1950 classic Disney Cinderella animated film.

In memory of Paul Ernst, the builder of Frozen Christmas and Toys’ Christmas who died in September, the family will have a memorial plaque on the Toys’ Christmas display.


Directional signs and ropes will be used again this year to keep an orderly traffic flow.

The Polar Bear Express WF trolley will run from dusk to 10 p.m. Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, through Christmas night. Tickets are $10. Children under age 5 ride free. MSU Texas students with current ID ride free Sunday through Thursday nights. Check online for updates and location.

Admission to the Fantasy of Lights is free. Donations are welcomed and needed to maintain the displays and keep the Fantasy of Lights a successful holiday tradition. Donations may be made using the special boxes stationed in the displays or online.

The displays will be turned on seven days a week from dusk to 10 p.m. through Saturday, Dec. 26. Special daytime requests have been suspended again this season. For more information visit the Fantasy of Lights website or call 940-397-4352.

Fantasy of Lights Schedule

Scheduled performances (unless otherwise noted, performances take place in center front of Hardin Building)

Thursday, Dec. 2

6 p.m.              Wichita Falls High School Jazz Band

6:30 p.m.         Tower Elementary Treble Clef Honor Choir

7 p.m.              Franklin Elementary School Choir


Tuesday, Dec. 7

6 p.m.              Fain Elementary School Choir

6:30 p.m.         Ben Milam Elementary School Choir


Thursday, Dec. 9

7 p.m.              McNiel Middle School Choir

Saturday, Dec. 18

3 p.m.              Wichita Falls TubaChristmas in Akin Auditorium


Fun Run

In-person registration for the 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, on the Hardin Administration Building lawn, with the race beginning at 10 a.m. Registration for the 5K is $25, and $15 for the 1-mile fun run. The first 100 who register will receive a long-sleeved race T-shirt. Pre-register online here.

A $25 gift card will be awarded to the fastest male and female 5K runners, the best dressed holiday-themed male and female participants, and the worst dressed holiday-themed male and female participants. All registration proceeds help support the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights.

History of the Lights

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, the couple 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.