It has become a tradition in some families, the city of Grand Prairie’s Prairie Lights, a holiday event that opened on Thanksgiving and goes through the first week of January. However, this year those 4 million twinkling lights set along two miles of path as folks drive through has been shut down for a few days due to high water. It is set to reopen on Thursday, December 3, 2015.
Beverly Grogan, CTA, Community Events Coordinator for the Parks, Arts & Recreation Department at the City of Grand Prairie said that last year Prairie Lights had 194,000 attendees. That’s a lot of folks who haven’t had the chance this year to enjoy the animated light tunnel and Christmas decorations that Prairie Lights has come to be known for over the years. Halfway through the drive there is also a Holiday Village where attendees can get out of the car and find food, gifts, Santa, an all-new indoor laser show and the Holiday Magic Lighted Walk-Through Forest.
Going into its 10th year with the City of Grand Prairie sponsoring the light park, Grogan said the chamber started it about six years prior to that, but ended it after three years.
“The Chamber started it as a fundraiser,” Grogan said. “But the cost of doing it was prohibitive. We sold those displays to a Church, who held it for two years, before the cost was prohibitive.”
It’s a 45-minute drive from beginning to end and Grogan said over the 10 years it has grown “tremendously and what was a drive-through with a small concession stand and gift shop has grown into a full evening of entertainment with creative, original displays and the use of LED lighting where possible.”
This year’s highlights include all new displays that Grogan said “will delight the returning visitor, plus a brand new Show-Cosmic Holiday, which is a laser and video immersion presentation. This year's park is [a] very creative Christmas Carnival, Holiday in the Jungle and Christmas in New York, just to name a few.”
The VIP experience will also be back for the second year allowing for attendees to pay per person versus the carload and in exchange receive a guided tour, avoid the lines of traffic, get a fast pass to the Carnival, priority seating in the Holiday magic theater as a $5 food coupon and $5 souvenir.
“Our goal is to create holiday memories,” Grogan said. “Our staff keeps that in mind, we do everything to make the visit enjoyable. Things like volunteers offering to take the family picture with the family's phone or camera, so every member gets in a picture and having the same Santa back since some children know no other Santa.”
Grogan said that the Prairie Lights team actually begins putting it all together on September 28 with a number of staffers and volunteers helping to get the park ready and she said she believes it is still so successful because it is one of the most affordable family holiday events in the Metroplex charging by the carload. There are also reasonable prices in the Holiday Village like $1 for hot chocolate and souvenir prices ranging from .25 to $20 and the carnival rides are included in the cost of the carload.
“Come early in the evening before the long lines develop,” Grogan concluded. “Or, come Monday to Thursday when the lines are not as long and the price is cheaper. The lines might be long, but our customers always tell us it was worth it.”
Hours and days of operation: Sunday to Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.
Friday, Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m.
Cost: Monday to Thursday; $20 carload
Friday to Sunday: $35 a carload