GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Prairie Lights is now open in Grand Prairie, and it’s the 15th year of this holiday light display.
Organizers typically see thousands of families through the drive-thru light display each year, but even more are expected this year with families feeling more comfortable staying in their cars.
Prairie Lights was already a drive-thru event every year, so they didn’t have to change much, but there’s no holiday village this year or in-person visits with Santa Claus.
Despite that, families are still excited to come out and celebrate.
In a year where so much has changed, families are eager to keep at least one of their holiday traditions alive
“We always leave the house, try to before 5 o’clock,” Michael Linder said.
Linder and his family have come every year since Prairie Lights first started, and this year was no different.
“It’s a family tradition, kind of like our reunion. It’s not Thanksgiving unless we come out here for the lights after we eat,” Linder added.
Families like the Hudsons, eager to get the Christmas season going, started lining up for opening night more than an hour before gates opened on Thursday.
“It feels normal just to go out and see the lights and just spend quality time with each other,” Rebecca Hudson said.
The event is strictly drive-thru only this year, which means no holiday village or walkthrough portion.
And instead of Christmas vendors, the event will have drive-thru concessions.
But because the event is only a drive-thru, organizers are expecting even more crowds this year.
“It was easy for us to promote a very safe, in-car experience. So I do think with people not comfortable getting around a large crowd or even being able to get around a large crowd, this is going to be a good year to get in the car, spend some time with family,” said Duane Strawn, director of Grand Prairie Parks & Recreation.
And families are grateful for the chance to go out and spread some holiday cheer.
“We come out every year. It’s just one of the few things we can do right now and enjoy as a family,” Chris Ginapp said.
Especially in a time when many families are adjusting their holiday traditions to celebrate safely during the pandemic.
“It was scary, Christmas is a really big deal for our family, everyone gets together. We worried about how Christmas is going to be at the beginning of March. We’ve taken it one step at a time,” Grace Trim said.
Prairie Lights is just a small moment of normalcy.
Family time, it’s important. We have to have some sense of normalcy,” Lashunda Hudson said.
“Unfortunately, we won’t be with all of our family this year,” Ginapp added. “We’re going to miss that. Just times like this where we can be together is really awesome right now.”
Prairie Lights runs through New Year’s Eve.
It’s open every night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and organizers recommend people go as early as they can to avoid long waits.