Nature in Lights continued to have another successful run at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreational Area.
The 5½-mile Christmas light display opened in November and will run though Jan. 5. On peak nights, as many as 1,200 cars pass through the lakeside display, said Brandi Christ, BLORA director.
Aside from 115 light displays, Santa’s Village and Santa’s Depot offer additional areas for families to get out of their cars and have fun, she said. At the village, people can shop and enjoy holiday treats, while the depot offers train rides, a petting zoo and pony rides.
The annual event has become a family tradition for some, such as the Vereen-Sauceda family, which travels from Axtell each year.
“We always come out,” said Katrina Sauceda, while she shopped at Santa’s Village on Dec. 19.
Sunni Vereen’s kids still have wax hands at home they made in past years’ visits to Nature in Lights.
“They loved that,” she said. “The lights are always so great.”
The Partain family of Killeen also made Nature in Lights a family tradition.
“They ask to come every year,” said Kimberly Partain, who brought her three children Dec. 19.
“I like all the Santa Clauses,” said her 4-year-old son, Logan. “My favorite (light display) is the bears dancing with reindeer.”
His 8-year-old sister, Lillee, had her own favorite.
“It’s when Santa shoots elves out of the cannon,” she said.
This year organizers added two additional nights to the lights display after the formal season ends — Saddle Night on Jan. 6 and Spoke Night on Jan. 8.
“We had inquiries from those groups saying, ‘Hey, we’d like to do this,’” Christ said. “We wanted to give it a shot and open it up.”
Horsin’ Around at BLORA Ranch is heading up Saddle Night with rides leaving at 6, 8 and 10 p.m., said Brenda Ramos, owner.
Participants can either ride in the 10-seat covered wagon pulled by a tractor, or bring their own horse with the proper medical records.
“It’s a real nice experience,” she said. “If you’ve never done anything like that, even if in the wagon ... it’s really a sight.”
Afterward, they’ll have snacks, hot chocolate and marshmallow roasting, Ramos said.
For the past couple of years, the ranch has simply supplied the petting zoo for each night of the event.
“As the owner, I absolutely love it,” she said. “There are some kids who’ve never touched a horse or a pig or a goat.
“To see the looks on their faces is just priceless.”
For more information on Nature in Lights, go to the Fort Hood Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website: http://hoodmwr.com/nature_in_lights.htm.