A beautiful piece of Wichita Falls history began a new life on the MSU campus 45 years ago.

MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights

For Wichita Falls, December 1974 would  mark the return for the Burns family’s Christmas legacy for all to see and enjoy. A few years ago, I was honored to be invited to join the executive committee for the event. The story of how it all began and how it came to the MSU campus still amazes me.

Tonight, November 25th, is the opening night for the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights. It’s a tradition that began on the lawn of Mr. and Mrs. L.T. Burns of Wichita Falls in the late 1920’s. Over the course of nearly six decades, the displays grew in size and quantity, and it became a yearly destination to cruise by the Burns’ home and take in the sights of Christmas on their lawn.

In May of 1971, Mrs. Burns passed away, and the displays were moved to a storage building in Archer City, where many of Burns family employees worked and lived. Then in 1974, the Burns' son passed away, and shortly thereafter the City of Archer City offered the displays to Midwestern State University, but the offer came with one, firm condition: they had to be displayed annually and offered free to the public as a memorial to the late Mr. and Mrs. Burns.

On December 4, 1974, the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights tradition was officially born. The tradition established decades earlier, when most people had no home telephone or even a car, was now the talk of the town. Now, thousands of people make the drive past the displays along Taft Blvd. Some choose to park and walk the displays. Children of all ages light up at the sight, year after year.

I want to clarify one of the biggest ongoing misconceptions of this event. Contrary to what you may have heard over the years, Midwestern State University does not fund the annual display. A non-profit committee was formed in 1975 to raise funds to operate and maintain the displays. MSU pays for nothing. No upkeep, no storage, not even the electricity required to light and operate the displays. All MSU does is supply the location.

Each year, an army of volunteers donate their time to refurbish, maintain and assemble the displays on the Hardin lawn along Taft Blvd. And it is through the generosity of donations from you, the public, and numerous local businesses, that this display is able to continue year after year. Tonight’s opening ceremony begins at 6:00 PM and the displays will be operated from dusk to 10 pm nightly through December 28th. Your donations are greatly appreciated. Merry Christmas to all!

Click here to donate to the MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights

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