A peek behind the Nite Lite curtain

WRITTEN BY: NOLEN FROEDTERT

COVER PHOTO BY: NOLEN FROEDTERT

Memories, an important aspect of the holiday season that can bring joy to your life during stressful times. Driving through Nite Lites and visiting the Winter Wonderland is one way to create or cherish memories with family and friends.

“When we first started at the fairgrounds, we had a manger scene with real actors from youth groups at the local churches,” owner and operations manager John Spink said.

Nite Lites began in 1996, the route was three eighths of a mile long and included a live manger scene, luminaries, and candy canes made of lights. This year, Nite Lites has a five mile route lined with millions of lights which guide you through Michigan International Speedway. To fill up the long route, Nite Lites has added new displays.

“We added the twelve days of Christmas this year,” Spink said. “When we created the twelve days, we built twelve drummers drumming, ten lords a leaping. It takes a mile to cover that entire display.”

The organizers of Nite Lites were ambitious this season with the new main display. They also constructed a princess castle, penguins fishing, three light tunnels, and six mega trees. To purchase some of these displays, Nite Lites reached out to local businesses to sponsor the show.

“We have eighteen sponsors this year,” Spink said. “Holiday LEDs and Mechanical Extremes are two new sponsors.”

Some sponsors assist with special events including Veterans night, where vehicles with a Veteran inside get in for free. The annual 5k run/walk is another event which Nite Lites hosts.

“I've gone the last three years,” sophomore Ella Moore said. “The first time I went (my sister) was running cross country in 7th grade and I wasn't and I out ran her. I thought it was really cool.”

Nite Lites offers many ways to create memories during the holiday season from driving or running through the show to sitting on Santa’s lap and meeting some reindeer. Children also have the opportunity to design their own display.

“We created a contest for the kids last year,” Spink said. “A six year old won the contest, she designed Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer ice skating on a pond with snowflakes.”

You can find her display towards the beginning of the show. Solar power, provided by MIS, powers 90 percent of the displays including the skating reindeer. Set up began months ago for the major undertaking.

“We started setting up the Tuesday after labor day, and work everyday until we open November 22,” Spink said.

You would think that there would also be a large workforce, but there are only 12 part-time employees and they are all retired.

Anyone can go down to MIS and enjoy the overwhelming amounts of lights built by 12 retired friends. Create some new holiday memories this year with your family or friends at Nite Lites this holiday season.

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