MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights to open Nov. 20

Beloved tradition returns to brighten holidays

MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights to open Nov. 20

When MSU Texas President Stacia Haynie flips the switch at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, and the whimsical scenes that fill the Hardin Administration Building lawn come to life, it will mark the 50-year association of Midwestern State University and the tradition begun by the L.T. Burns family.

On Dec. 4, 1974, the Hardin lawn was first illuminated with the Christmas scenes that had graced the home of Mrs. L.T. (Lillian) Burns until her death in 1971. The story of the lights begins with a single blue light bulb. That was all newlyweds Lillian and L.T. could afford to decorate the tree they placed on their front porch to celebrate their first Christmas together in the 1920s. To celebrate the 50-year association, 50 Christmas trees throughout the Hardin lawn will be decorated with a single blue bulb ornament.

Also to celebrate 50 years, new displays have been added to bring the total of sponsored displays to 50. Twenty-one of those displays are from the original Burns family collection. New this year are “Oh Deer, How Sweet,” a 7-foot reindeer and candy cane picture spot; “Sounds of the Season,” an anime choir with 12 singing characters; an evergreen tree with large ornaments; and a Fantasy of Lights photo spot.

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, and will be available until 8 p.m.

Food trucks scheduled to be on hand include Kafe Maya, Kona Ice, Kimmie’s Korn, Loco for Dulce, McKinney BBQ, and Tacos El Pueblo.

After the opening ceremony, the displays will be turned on seven days a week from dusk to 10 p.m. through Tuesday, Dec. 26. Displays will be turned on during the day for special events from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. For more information visit the Fantasy of Lights website or call 940-397-4352.

Fantasy of Lights rock


Fantasy of Lights at night time

Fantasy of Lights 2023

Polar Bear Express Trolley

The Polar Bear Express WF trolley will run from 6-10 p.m. Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, through Saturday, Nov. 25. December dates are Friday-Sunday, Dec. 1-3; Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 7-10; and nightly Dec. 15 through Christmas night. Tickets are $10. Children under age 5 ride free. MSU Texas students with current ID ride free any night the trollies are in operation. Check online for updates and location.

Santa’s Mailbox

Those special letters to Santa may be deposited in Santa’s Mailbox, which will be available from Nov. 17 to Dec. 17 on the Fantasy of Lights grounds near the Liberty Bell. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope for Santa’s reply. Contact the City of Wichita Falls Parks and Recreation office at 940-761-7490 for more information.


Scheduled performances

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


Thursday, Dec. 7

6 p.m.              Wichita Falls High School Jazz Band

7 p.m.              Hirschi High School Jazz Band


Tuesday, Dec. 12

6 p.m.              Crockett Elementary School Choir

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

7 p.m.              Ben Milam Elementary School Choir

Wednesday, Dec. 13

6 p.m.              Prairie Valley ISD Choir


Thursday, Dec. 14

6 p.m.              McNiel Middle School Band

6:30 p.m.         Barwise Middle School Band


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 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.