By Heather Regula, Correspondent
Nature in Lights, at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, runs nightly November 15 – January 5, 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. Over five miles of the lakeside landscape is lit up with festive, holiday-inspired light displays. Christmas music broadcasts over the radio station 91.9 FM.
Santa’s Village, open Thursday – Sunday (including Thanksgiving), is a favorite stop for many. The Cowboy Cafe sells hot chocolate and treats. Pictures with Santa cost $8, and the cost is the same if a personal camera is used. Local vendors, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and holiday music fill Santa’s Village with a welcoming atmosphere.
Venturing out to take in the sights and enjoying all that Santa’s Village has to offer is a yearly holiday tradition for Jana Foster, of Moffat.
“I’m here with my daughter and my grandchildren – Lorelei and Nathan. We come here every year, and we love it! The lights are amazing, and we always look forward to seeing them. The kids enjoy visiting Santa as well,” explained Foster.
Bob Mims spent 25 years in the Army before retiring as a 1SG. He now works as a Ceramicist at the Apache Arts and Crafts Center on Fort Hood.
“We have an area set up here in Santa’s Village for people to come and paint. For $5, kids can pick out a piece of art and paint it. The ceramic art pieces were made at the Apache Arts and Crafts Center on post, and we brought them there,” remarked Mims. “I love coming to help out here. Seeing the kids enjoying themselves while they paint is the best. It’s great to be able to let the kids experience something they don’t usually get to do.”
Further down the light display trail, in the marina cove, is Santa’s Depot and a tram ride. For $5 per adult and $3 per child (age 11 and under), attendees can ride the tram and get a unique glimpse of the holiday lights not available by car. The nearby petting zoo offers children the opportunity to pet animals for $3 and to feed them for an additional $1.
The entry fees to Nature in lights vary by size of vehicle. Cars, mini-vans, and pick-up trucks are $15. Vans, limos, and RVs cost $30. 24-passenger vans can gain entry for $50, and large buses cost $50.