WEST, Texas — Just off I-35 in West, a few Central Texas families hope to spread Christmas cheer by inviting visitors to explore their winter wonderland in West.
The Lights of West can be found on a 50-acre site just off Wiggins Road. It features several displays, including a nativity scene, light tunnels and a 20-foot tall Santa statue. According to the site's web site, it features more than one million lights.
"I think people are starved for the Christmas spirit this time of year," co-owner Tom Patterson said. "It's been a tough year for a lot of people, and there's a hope that comes from Christmas like no other."
Patterson and a few other Central Texas families came up with the idea after seeing the success of Santa's Wonderland in College Station.
"We started in January with shovels and Ditch Witches, and we finished on November 20th, opening day," Patterson said.
Early on, Patterson thought the coronavirus might mean trouble for his family's project. But, as the months rolled on, he found it to be a blessing in disguise.
"COVID gave us more opportunities to work on this as our schedules freed up," he said.
The Lights of West opened to the public Friday, offering guests the chance to drive along a mile-long trail through the displays and take pictures with the Santa statue.
"There's so many lights, so many displays. There's something to catch your eye everywhere you go," Katie Holcomb, a visitor, said.
Patterson said they hope the winter wonderland will also offer a boost to other local businesses in West. Earlier this year, Westfest was canceled because of the virus, robbing the city of needed tourism revenue.
"We feel like as they become more familiar with this place, they're gonna want to make this part of their destination, stop in Waco or West for a day or two, and make the Christmas lights part of their adventure," he said.
The Lights of West will be open nightly at 6 p.m. until January. Admission is $35 per vehicle with up to eight passengers. Vehicles with more than eight passengers will be charged $55.
"We don't get these attractions here locally," Jaciel Gutierrez, who visited the site with his family, said. "We have to drive out to go find them in other parts of the city, but to see it in our tiny country town, it's a cool experience."