Beloved tradition returns to brighten holidays

MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights to open Nov. 21

The more than 40 lighted scenes and animated displays that grace the Hardin Administration Building’s front lawn at Midwestern State University will be brought to life at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, when President JuliAnn Mazachek will flip the switch to illuminate the beloved tradition.

The story of the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights begins with a single blue light bulb. That was all newlyweds Lillian and L.T. Burns could afford to decorate the Christmas tree they placed on their front porch to celebrate their first Christmas together in the 1920s.

With Midwestern’s Centennial this year and the 50th anniversary of the university’s association with the Burns’ lights approaching, that simple beginning will be honored with single blue bulb-shaped ornaments placed in many of the Christmas trees scattered throughout this year’s MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights.

Festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m. with MSU Texas carillonneur Jim Quashnock playing holiday music on the Redwine Carillon in the Hardin tower at 3410 Taft Blvd. Santa Claus is expected to make the trip from the North Pole for photos.

Fantasy of Lights sign on rock

Food trucks scheduled to be on hand include Chef’d Up, Kona Ice, Kimmie’s Korn, Fazmoz, and El Norteno on Wheels.

The MSU Texas Department of Music’s Wind Ensemble will present the Fantasy of Lights concert at 7 p.m. in Akin Auditorium. The concert is free to the public and will follow the lighting of the displays. Call 940-397-4267 for more information.

Wichita Falls Independent School District’s Career Education Center continued its tradition of contributing to the Fantasy of Lights by performing structural work on several displays. Former Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas programs director Mary Helen Maskill performed extensive paint and fiberglass work on several of the displays’ characters. The Priddy Scholars also contributed to the maintenance of displays.

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

After the opening ceremony, the displays will be turned on seven days a week from dusk to 10 p.m. through Monday, 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.

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. Please call 940-397-4352 for more information.

The Polar Bear Express WF trolley will run from dusk to 10 p.m. Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, through Christmas night. Tickets are $10. Children under age of 5 ride free. MSU Texas students with current ID ride free Sunday through Thursday nights. Check online for updates and location.

Snowmen display at Fantasy of Lights

2022 MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights

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

Thursday, Dec. 1

6 p.m.              Crockett Elementary School Choir

 

Tuesday, Dec. 6

6 p.m.              Tower Elementary School Choir

6:30 p.m.         Fain Elementary School Choir

7 p.m.              Hirschi High School Jazz Band

 

Thursday, Dec. 8

6 p.m.              Wichita Falls High School Jazz Band

6:30 p.m.         Burkburnett High School Jazz Band

7 p.m.              Rider High School Jazz Band

Tuesday, Dec. 13

6 p.m.              Ben Franklin Elementary School Choir

6:30 p.m.         McNiel Middle School Choir

7 p.m.              Ben Milam Elementary School Choir

Thursday, Dec. 15

6 p.m.              Barwise Middle School Band

6:30 p.m.         Kirby Middle School Choir

7 p.m.              Hrschi Acapella Choir

Saturday, Dec. 17

3 p.m.              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. 19, 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

With L.T. 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 displays 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 State University on the condition that they be operated free of charge as a memorial to Mrs. Burns. A photo of Mrs. Burns greeting visitors is near the welcome sign. Today, descendants of the Burns are active in the Fantasy of Lights work and sponsor several displays. This year marks the 49th anniversary of MSU Texas’ association with the tradition.