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Let there be lights!

Fantasy Lights returns for another shining year

Photo courtesy Pierce County Parks & Recreation

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The holiday season is filled with social engagements and established traditions. From cookie baking to Hallmark movies, to ugly sweaters and mystery gift-giving exchanges, the wonders of wintery goodness make for a delightful time of year. Amongst the whirlwinds of candy canes and Christmas carols, consider incorporating a trip to Pierce County's beloved Fantasy Lights into your festive arrangements.

Established over two decades ago, Fantasy Lights is a highly celebrated drive-thru display of awe-inspiring light exhibits held annually during the holiday season at Spanaway Park. The jaw-dropping two-mile drive includes elaborate sparkling scenes and pieces that evoke a profound sense of wizardry and reverence for people of all ages. Open from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, Fantasy Lights provides over a month of bewildering twinkling enjoyment for the whole family.

Open from 5:30-9 p.m. nightly, the cost to attend is $14 per vehicle, although there are several places to find $3 off coupons. Military members, retirees and dependents all receive this $3 discount upon showing proper identification. Six half-priced events are scheduled throughout the season, though the coupons are not valid on these occasions.

There are countless ways in which Fantasy Lights is a special event, but the main reason is its uniqueness. "We're the only drive-thru Christmas light display, aside from driving through neighborhoods -- which is very fun to do. Having this be a drive-thru event makes it inclusive for the whole family," enthuses Recreation Supervisor for Pierce County Parks and Recreation Jen Spane, who has been with the organization for 10 years. "You can bring Grandma and Grandpa, you can bring the kids, everyone can do this together no matter what their ability level is. No matter what the weather is like, you can be dry and warm and listening to holiday music in the comfort of your own car."

Preparations and logistics for Fantasy Lights begins in February, and it's full steam ahead for Parks and Rec employees until opening day in November. "It takes a lot of time," Spane shares. "They start putting all of the displays out around Halloween, and it takes them a good month or so to get everything out. They're working hard, and it shows."

A true community-centered event, Fantasy Lights utilizes local partnerships in the pursuit of collaboration. "We have an amazing partnership with Bates Technical College, Clover Park Technical College and Roger's High School's welding programs. All three of those programs build displays for us, with us providing the metal and imaging to them before they construct the pieces. These students are really good at what they do, and that's how we're able to get new displays into the park that we own."

Already been to Fantasy Lights previously? No problem! Since Fantasy Lights is constantly evolving, there is always something new to spark interest for returning customers. "We're in our 24th year of Fantasy Lights, which is a long time for any special event," Spane acknowledges. "Over the years, we have continued to grow our displays, so much so, that if you attended Fantasy Lights the first year -- where there were minimal lights and displays -- you would see a huge difference. We don't ever get rid of displays -- we only add onto them."

Need a well-deserved break from the ho-ho-ho go-go-go? Grab some hot cocoa, climb into the car, and venture to the enchanted realm of Fantasy Lights, where the scintillating allure will serve as the perfect backdrop for holiday cheer and magical memory-making for years to come.

FANTASY LIGHTS, 5:30-9 p.m., Nov. 22-Jan. 1, 2019, Spanaway Park, 14905 Bresemann Blvd. S., Spanaway, $14, 253.798.4177,

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