By Lindsay Starr Platt, The Belton Journal
Fort Hood’s Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area (BLORA) has once again put on the stunning Christmas light display, “Nature in Lights XVII: A Holiday Tradition” for their 19th year. Patrons attending the 5.5 mile display will enjoy more than 120 LED lighted holiday scenes from Nov. 13 through Jan. 3.
“Nature in Lights” launched this year’s season with their annual VIP Sponsor Kick-off Party. Sponsors of the light displays and Fort Hood officials had a chance to meet and greet as they mingled at the reception. Live music from a local harpist played as guests enjoyed refreshments and headed out for a sneak peek of this year’s lights.
“This is our 19th year. We started with only 25 displays the first year and now we have grown to 123. Sponsorships of the displays help offset the costs,” said Lisa Bass, outdoor recreation coordinator, MWR, Fort Hood. “This is a major event for MWR and outdoor recreation. The displays change every year. People come from out of state and make it part of their holiday tradition.”
“I appreciate all the support from the sponsors,” III Corps garrison commander Colonel Todd M. Fox said. “‘Nature in Lights’ is what defines the holiday season in Central Texas. We can continue to put it on because of the help from our sponsors.”
A “Nature in Lights” Christmas ornament will be distributed to each vehicle that enters on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings while supplies last.
“It is our first year as sponsors and we are trying to get our name out there. And we want people to see what Belton has to offer,” said Faith Rudel, office manager, Lonestar Pediatric Dental.
“Santa’s Village will have a Santa and chance for photos and also arts and craft vendors. Santa Depot will have pony rides and train rides. The train ride gives people a chance to see a route only available from the train and is different. There will be “Concessions Under the Stars” and holiday cartoon movies on Saturday nights. We also have our “Spokes”, “Saddle” and “Cycle” nights,” said Bass. “This event is open to the public and visitors can drive through the 800+ acre park nightly and enjoy five and one half miles of illuminated displays, many computer animated, and ranging in size from a single strand to scenes spanning 40’ x 300’ wide, as well as architectural and foliage lighting.”
Santa’s Depot is located in the parking lot of the Marina Cove. Santa’s Depot is open from 5:30–11:00 p.m. Thursday-Sunday Nov. 19 through Dec. 13 and from Dec. 17-27.
The cost for Santa’s Depot is $5 per adult or $3 per child, ages 11 and under (lap children, determined by the vendor, ride free).
Also available are pony rides for $5, a petting zoo, “Concessions Under the Stars” and holiday cartoons on Nov. 28 and again on Dec. 5, 12 and 19.
Santa’s Village offers hot chocolate, homemade cookies, seasonal crafts and a photographs with Santa from 5:30–11 p.m. Thursday-Sunday from Nov. 19 through Dec. 13 and from Dec. 17 through 24.
“We are really looking forward to putting on another successful event and having the community come see our lights,” commented Brandi Christ, director, BLORA. “The best part is watching the kids eyes light up, especially with the snow machine.”
On January 4, 2016, bikers can enjoy “Cycle Night” at 6:00 p.m.. Motorcyclists should enter the park on the main Cottage Road entrance. The full trail of lights is $3.00 per motorcycle. There will also be $3.00 per person train rides, limited to the first 30 passengers. Bad weather make-up date will be January 5, 2016.
BLORA is open Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas.
Gate fees for BLORA “Nature in Lights” are:
Car, mini-van and pick-up – $8
Limos, RV & 15 – passenger van – $20
24 – passenger van – $35.00
47 – passenger van or larger bus – $60.00
For program information and event weather related status contact: BLORAPark Reservation Office at 254-287-2523.
Directions can be found – www.hoodmwr.com.directions/htm