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November 9, 2012

[caption width="250" caption=" Derik Severance works to erect a Christmas light display at the Cross Creek Camping Resort Friday in preparation for the Nov. 16 opening of Fantasy of Lights. (GAZETTE | Devon Immelt) "][/caption]


Staff Writer

A Delaware County Christmas tradition will return this month with the opening of the 13th annual Alum Creek Fantasy of Lights at the Alum Creek State Park Campground at 2911 S. Old State Road.

Crews were busy this week preparing the campground for the event that will run Nov. 16 to Jan. 1.

An estimated two million light bulbs will be used for 135 themed displays along the three-mile route, which visitors can drive through from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The number of lighted attractions increased when the event moved last year from Alum Creek Marina to the campground. Even more attractions have been added for this year, said Stephanie Fox-Gandee, manager of the nearby Cross Creek Camping Resort.

They include Santa Claus in a wagon pulled by Clydesdale horses and a poinsettia arch spanning the roadway. Smaller displays about five feet tall, depicting trees and shooting stars, also have been added.

Other displays include the word “Rejoice,” a large American flag with the outlines of five soldiers, Santa’s vacation, a 180-foot long Christmas scene, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer fishing and the word “Peace” between two large silver bells.

Midwest Displays Inc. of Marion, Ind., produced many of the displays. Midways president Mike Howard in a written statement described them as “giant twinkling sculptures, brilliant tunnels, cascading arches and unbelievable animated themed areas.”

Fantasy of Lights visitors are invited to Santa’s house and gift shop at Cross Creek Camping Resort, 3190 S. Old State Road, Fox-Gandee said, where free hot chocolate and cookies will be available. She said Cross Creek is about a 60-second drive from Fantasy of Lights.

Visits to Santa are free (until Dec. 23, after which he has to head to the North Pole) and photos with the jolly elf are available starting at $5.

Fox-Gandee said Fantasy of Lights is the creation of Scott Cross, who has state contracts to run the marinas at Alum Creek and Deer Creek State Park near Mount Sterling. An original goal, she said, was to keep seasonal employees working more weeks during the year.

From the onset, another goal was added. A portion of the gate admissions and all money from Santa photos are donated annually to Recreation Unlimited, a nonprofit organization that serves youth and adults with physical and mental disabilities.

Since Fantasy of Lights’ inception, Fox-Gandee said, about $85,000 has been given to Recreation Unlimited.

About 12,000 vehicles a year drive through Fantasy of Lights.

The cost to enter is $10 per car from Mondays through Thursdays, except for Dec. 17 through 25, when the price is $15. Admission also is $15 per car on each Friday, Saturday and Sunday.