By Tony Farkas
Lone Star Lights is a wonderland near Riverside.
Maybe not a wintery one, but one full of not only the Christmas spirit but the Holy Spirit as well, with 1.2 million LED lights creating a holiday glow.
Event Director Wes Armstrong said Lone Star Lights covers an area of approximately 17 acres just off of FM 980, and was created last year as an extension of Carolina Creek Christian Camp’s mission of bringing families closer to Christ.
Since the camps and retreat centers close down during the holiday season, Armstrong said Lone Star Lights was designed to allow the camp to reach people year-round in a family-centric and community-oriented way.
Following a large loop, there are eight themed areas for visitors to explore, all designed to make them feel as they won’t be “nickel and dimed” by the park.
One such is the Snow Zone, a place where three quarters of a million pounds of snow is created for the full winter experience. Armstrong said they truck in 30,000 to 60,000 pounds of ice daily, depending on the weather, which is then shredded on site.
There is Santa’s Workshop, where people and children can get their pictures taken with Santa, which is provided free in digital form to the patrons. Prints can be purchased if desired.
A hit with children is Rolly the Talking Reindeer, who is an animatronic animal that is interactive and will respond to questions, all the while cracking jokes.
Patrons can do crafts, decorate sugar cookies at Silver Bell Bakery, take horse rides through the park (led by attendants), ride a zip line over a river of lights or take on challenges in what Armstrong says is a hidden gem — the Adventure Park.
There are crate stacking challenges and bucking barrels for kids of all ages
There are daily acoustic musical acts, live bands, and in Halley Hall, community groups of all types, such as acting, dancing or even martial arts, can perform.
For a more immersive experience, the camp offers dinner theater, which includes a four-course meal and acts by the A.D. Players, or even overnight stays can be purchased, as the camp has 12 family cabins, each themed and decorated for the season, and 12 lodge rooms, all Christmas-centric.
Armstrong said it takes 135 people a night to staff the park, which includes full-time, seasonal and volunteer staff.
The park is open on select days beginning Nov. 24 and ending with a nine-day run to Dec. 24. Hours run from 5:30-10 p.m.
Armstrong said costs for adults is $35 and $22 for children; however, there are several discount nights where costs drop to $25 for adults and $15 for youth. The park closes at 9 p.m. those nights. Parking is free, and shuttles will ferry guests to the park.
For information or to purchase tickets or make reservations, call (936) 744-0134 or visit lonestarlights.org .