MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights dazzles with holiday cheer

One of the longest running holiday traditions in North Texas all started with a small Christmas tree and a single, blue bulb.

It was the tree of Mr. and Mrs. L.T. Burns, who set the tree on their front porch in the 1920s as a way to celebrate Christmas. Each year, the display became a little more extravagant as the couple became more successful in the oil field business. They continued their annual tradition until her passing in 1971, when the display was left in the care of her son.

Unfortunately, her son passed just a few years later in 1974, and the many pieces of the Christmas tradition was left in the care of Archer City, where many employees of the Burns estate lived and worked. The city offered the display to Midwestern State University on the condition the display be operated free of charge to the public.

A nonprofit Fantasy of Lights committee was formed to fundraise for the restoration of the exhibit and for its display for the 1974 holiday season. A small army of volunteers from Wichita Falls gathered and worked long hours repairing each piece. They accomplished their goal and the exhibition lit up the night sky at MSU the winter of that year.

Today, 40 lighted, animated scenes bring Christmas joy to an estimated 200,000 visitors on the front lawn of the Hardin Administration Building at MSU. The university owns and operates the displays as an outreach to the community. MSU does not fund the MSU- Burns Fantasy of Lights. It is solely supported by the generous donations of so many within the community and beyond. 

To read more, pick up a copy of the November/December issue of LiveIt magazine.