About four years ago, my friend and co-worker, the late Roy Huston, asked me to attend a meeting. The meeting was held in a conference room at the Clark Student Center at Midwestern State University. Roy had been a committee volunteer for the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights for many years, and now wanted me to get involved as well. I remain involved to this day and consider it an honor and a privilege to be a part of the event. Let me tell you the story behind the Fantasy of Lights.

In the late 1920's, Mr. and Mrs. L.T. Burns set up a small Christmas tree on their front porch at their home on 10th Street.  As the years passed, the Burns’ would set up a slightly larger display, and each year the displays became a little more elaborate than the previous year. After Mrs. Burns passed away in the spring of 1971, her will stipulated the many Christmas display items could either remain with her son or, if he so desired, could remain in storage in Archer City in storage, as many of the Burns’ family employees lived there. For three years, the displays remained in storage, unseen by the public.

The Burns’ son, Bobby Burns, passed away in 1974. Soon after, Archer City officials offered the displays to Midwestern State University with one major stipulation: the complete display be operated, free of charge to the public, as a memorial to Mrs. Burns. The nonprofit Fantasy of Lights Committee was established to raise the thousands of dollars needed for paint, parts, and other materials needed to restore the display for its debut on the MSU campus that Christmas. The committee gathered volunteers to help restore the displays during the late summer and early fall of 1974.

On December 4, 1974, the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights came to life on the MSU Campus along Taft Blvd. The tradition has continued every year since, and the Fantasy of Lights Committee and the many volunteers recruited each year work tirelessly to ensure that this Wichita Falls tradition continues for generations to come. It is through the generosity of you, the citizens of North Texas and Southern Oklahoma, that we are able to bring the joy of the Christmas season to everyone, free of charge, year after year, with these amazing displays.

Your donations go 100 percent to the maintenance, preservation and presentation of the dream of Mrs. Burns, one that began nearly a century ago on the front porch of the Burns’ home. As has been the tradition for many years, volunteers will be at the end of the drive-thru viewing line with ‘Santa’s Boots’, collecting cash donations. Also, you can click here to make an online donation.  This year’s displays open on November 19 and continue through December 29.

I want to extend a huge thank you to the many volunteers from throughout the community, as well as Sheppard AFB, for the many hours donated to work on and set up the displays and to stand out there every night, no matter the weather, to collect donations. We look forward to seeing you and your family at the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights at Midwestern State University.

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