News release from the AWS Foundation:
The Fantasy of Lights: Months of Preparation for its 20th Year
(November 14, 2014) – The Fantasy of Lights may be opening in just a few short weeks on November 26th, but it has taken months of preparation and hundreds of volunteer hours for the event to get ready for the public to enjoy!
The night before Thanksgiving, the skyline at Franke Park comes to life with tens of thousands of people enjoying an array of colorful, animated light displays throughout the holiday season. But on December 31st, when the northeast Indiana’s biggest and brightest outdoor holiday light display goes dark, it can take up to a month to remove and store those much loved displays. Even before cleanup is complete, the team at the AWS Foundation along with the Fantasy of Lights volunteers begins working on plans and new displays for the next Christmas holiday season. It’s a tradition that has lasted 20 years and many of those that work on the event have been there since it started back in 1994.
“It’s a labor of love,” says Lynne Gilmore, Executive Director of the AWS Foundation. “We have individuals, families and companies that enjoy working the event every year. It’s a holiday tradition.”
Operations Director and volunteer, Dan Stuerzenberger, has been managing the event operations for more than 10 years and says it’s his way of giving back to the community. “We start preparing displays on October 1st and are setting them up until the day before we open,” says Dan. “My reward is seeing how much everyone enjoys the event when they come through.” Dan and his wife, Linda, also volunteer various evenings throughout the event to help coordinate volunteer groups that take tickets and direct cars as they travel the 1 Â½ mile route through Franke Park lined with 70 plus larger-than-life displays.
“Families have passed the Fantasy of Lights tradition on to the next generation,” says Gilmore. “We’ve seen the children grow up and bring their spouses and children back to help support the event.” Last year more than 15,000 vehicles traveled through the event which raises money in support of programs that help children and adults with disabilities.
Fantasy of Lights opens on November 26th and continues every night through December 31, including holidays. Admission is $5 per car, $10 per commercial passenger van and $25 for buses and trolleys. Horse drawn carriage rides are available on weekends. Visit www.AWSfantasyoflights.com for more information.
About AWS Foundation
AWS Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, produces the event and proceeds from the holiday-themed light show support its grant making activities. The Foundation’s mission is to support programs that help children and adults with enduring intellectual and physical disabilities live as independently as possible, be included in the community and function at their highest potential.