By Melanie J. Knox, Opinion Editor
Strings of colored lights, lit up Santas and jingle bells dashing through the dust. And for some, Christmas is not complete without driving around to look at the bright displays.
For the 13th year, organizations, businesses, churches and other groups have set up a free drive-thru display of Christmas lights and scenes at the Abilene State School.
This year, 57 groups sponsor displays-many of them new- so looking at the lights is different each year, said Barbara Reid, director of community relations for the school.
The display opened Thursday at 6 p.m. and will be open until Dec. 24.
“It’s our gift to the community for supporting the state school,” Reid said. “It’s become a holiday tradition for many families.”
Reid estimated about 5,000 vehicles came to look at the displays last year, which included hay rides.
In addition to the outdoor displays, the state school also has an indoor display called Quanah’s Winter Wonderland.
At the indoor display, 3-D glasses, hot chocolate and other concessions will be for sale, and proceeds will go to the Volunteer Services Council to buy Christmas gifts and medical equipment for the residents.
Rita Harrell, administrative coordinator of the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center, said she also enjoys looking at lights in neighborhoods. She said the River Oaks and Elmwood areas off South 14th Street are good places, as well as the large homes in the Fairway Oaks division. Closer to campus, she said the Lytle Creek area usually has a lot of lights as well.
Celebration Park, which features lighted displays of Christ’s birth, dinosaurs and a 50-foot Christmas tree, is three miles east of Abilene on Interstate 20 and is open from 6:30 – 10 p.m. until Dec. 30. The cost is $15 per car up to six passengers and $1 for each additional passenger. In addition to the lights in the park, the fee includes a laser light show. More information can be found at www.celebrationpark.com or by calling 691-5078.