If you are looking for local places to see Christmas lights this season, Wrights’ Lights, just west of Dayton on FM 1960, is a must-see. The Christmas display at the home of Paul and Patty Wright will be open every evening for visitors through the holiday season.
Last year, the Wrights won the Great Christmas Light Fight, which challenges American families to compete for the best outdoor Christmas displays. Over last year’s holiday season, tens of thousands of people found their way to the Wrights’ house about six miles west of Dayton. Weather appears to have kept some people away this year, but on any given night, there are vehicles lined up along the highway and a steady stream of people walking through the Wrights’ Lights display.
Patty Wright says she and her husband, who own a automotive restoration and collision repair business, and their children spend three months putting together the display in time for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. She estimates that there are upward of 200,000 lights placed among the display, which covers the family’s entire front yard. There are paths that lead visitors through the display.
“Some people zip right through without stopping to look at everything. The average person will spend anywhere from 30-45 minutes walking through,” Patty said.
A driveway with arched lighting and a giant “Merry Christmas” welcomes guests as they enter. Once inside, paths with street names like Gingerbread Lane, Reindeer Lane and Bumble’s Hideout, branch off the main path.
Gingerbread Lane leads to a gingerbread village, then becomes Reindeer Lane where Santa’s workshop is located. Other areas feature a reindeer and sleigh, M & M candy section and a nativity scene. Some of the lighting features are synchronized to Christmas music being played on FM 90.3.
“At the very end at the back, we have Santa and his nine reindeer flying through the air,” Patty said.
The Wrights have included a mailbox for letters to Santa. Anyone who submits a letter with a return address is guaranteed a reply from Santa Claus.
Nineteen years ago, the Wrights began their love of Christmas decorations with some lights donated to them by Paul’s late mother, Violet.
“His family used to do a big display when they lived up north in Illinois. When they moved to Texas in 1979, they didn’t do it any longer. Once we got married, she brought over a few of her old Christmas decorations for Paul,” Patty said. “We put those up. Then Paul went to a hardware store after the holidays and saw some Christmas lanterns for sale. He bought them and they are still part of our Gingerbread scene.”
Gradually over time the Wrights’ Christmas decorations grew into the mammoth lighting display that it is today. Patty said that both she and Paul have a love for Christmas lights but nowadays the real motivations for the display are their grandchildren.
“Our 6-year-old grandson has helped blow it up to the stage where it is now. He always has had a love of Santa,” Patty said.
The lights are a labor of love for the community as well, she added.
“We do it to see the joy that it brings to people. That’s the main reason. We love Christmas and we love seeing the looks on the children’s faces when they visit,” she said.
The Wrights also put together a toy drive to benefit the foster children of Liberty County. On Tuesday afternoon, they delivered two truckloads of donated toys to Kimmie Brown Elementary in Dayton where a party was held later that evening for the foster children.
“We don’t ask for money donations. We have been hounded about putting up a donation box, but instead we made a love box. People can drop us a note and tell us what they think of the display. If they choose to donate to us for the light display, that’s great, but we don’t ask for anything,” Patty said.
The Wrights say they try to be at the display every weekend to greet guests and hand out candy canes. The lights are turned on at 5:30 p.m. every day of the week. Cut-off times are midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends.
Wrights’ Lights is located at 8288 FM 1960, six miles west of Dayton. If you go, here are some things to keep in mind:
- FM 1960 is a busy and dangerous highway, particularly for foot traffic.
- A safer option for parking and foot traffic is CR 612
- If you park along the highway, consider turning on your vehicle’s flashers to alert oncoming traffic
- Carry a flashlight and wear brightly colored clothing
- If you bring children, hold their hand in yours while walking along the highway
For more information on Wrights’ Lights, go online to https://www.facebook.com/wrightslightsandmore/
By Vanesa Brashier, email@example.com