GRAND PRAIRE, Texas – Grand Prairie’s popular North Texas holiday attraction of millions of twinkling lights isn’t letting COVID-19 stop a 15-year tradition. The event will look different than in previous years but is continuing in a socially distanced, safe way.
From the comfort and safety of their cars, visitors can enjoy the two-mile drive-through spectacle of hundreds of light displays along the shores of Joe Pool Lake.
This year's event wouldn’t be possible without the 20 city employees who spent eight weeks constructing the displays. The team is led by Jason Williams, Prairie Lights’s operations supervisor.
“When I first came here four years ago, they were telling me about Prairie Lights and how big a deal [it is],” he said. “I didn't understand it really is something that some families come and do year after year. People get proposed to here, people from all over the world come to visit these lights. It's a fun ... it has a lot of payoff.”
The team has worked around the clock to assemble dozens of never-before-seen displays, a new prehistoric themed section, and one of the event’s most famous light installations, the animated grand finale tunnel will look brighter with all new LED lights.
“They'll go in a sequence of one by one, it just looks like a train running down,” said Williams. “It's pretty cool to see at night. You can't see any of the structure, you just see the lights. And it just looks like they're chasing each other and they go back and forth.”
Since its premiere in 2005, Prairie Lights has become one of the top holiday attractions in the region, drawing more than 29,000 vehicles and 165,000 guests last year alone. Duane Strawn, executive director for the city’s Parks, Arts, and Recreation Department, said that the city is expecting an even stronger turnout in 2020.
“Given the challenges of this year, people need something fun, exciting, and comfortingly familiar to look forward to this holiday season, and for thousands of North Texans, that’s Prairie Lights,” he said. “People also need to know that they’re going to enjoy a safe experience, and given the fact that we already have 14 years of practice under our belt when it comes to offering a large-scale, drive-through only experience, plus the minor safety adjustments we’ve made to this year’s event, we’re quite confident that we’ll be able to meet our guests’ expectations.”
Strawn also said that the city will offer a special discounted admission price to park visitors this year, as well as a continued revival of the popular “Fast Pass” option that allows guests to upgrade their experience and bypass the line.
“Prairie Lights is Grand Prairie’s holiday gift to the community, and it’s a gift that’s even more meaningful to us this year,” he said. “We’re looking forward to celebrating the season with North Texans.”
While the park’s out-of-car experience (the Holiday Village) will not open this year due to pandemic considerations, the event will feature a new drive-through concession option. Since visitors won’t be able to take pictures with Santa this year, the event offers virtual greetings from Santa with personalized video messages sponsored by the Grand Prairie Chamber of Commerce via the Prairie Lights website.
Due to the high volume of cars on weekends and holidays, Strawn says visitors should prepare to arrive early allowing additional time to get through the park.
Admission is $30 per car (up to eight people), and a Fast Pass (line jump pass) is available for $99. Additional fees apply for limos, shuttles, and commercial vehicles.
The event, produced by the City of Grand Prairie Parks, Arts, and Recreation Department, runs every night from 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. through New Year’s Eve.
It’s located at Lynn Creek Park at Joe Pool Lake, 5610 Lake Ridge Parkway, Grand Prairie, Texas, 75052.