Riding through Nature in Lights
Monica Gardner and her five-year-old son Jasper ride in a small carriage along the Nature in Lights route at the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area at Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 6. Nature in Lights is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is open to the public nightly Nov. 12 through Jan. 2. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas - More than 100 people rode through Nature in Lights on horseback Saturday night, becoming the first people to see the 25th anniversary Christmas light display at the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area here, Nov. 6.

“There aren’t many places that you get to ride through Christmas lights on horseback. It’s great that we can share this with a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls that enjoy the ride just like we do,” Tiffany Zeitouni, BLORA Ranch contractor, said. “It makes it even more special to be part of the 25th anniversary of Nature in Lights.”

Now celebrating 25 years of lights, Lisa Lorenz-Bass, the program coordinator for the Fort Hood Outdoor Recreation Department, has been with Nature in Lights since the beginning. She originally came up with the idea to bring people into the park during its off-season. The annual event began with 58 displays in 1996. She said she knew the lights would be a hit when they reached more than 167,000 guests in the inaugural year. Since then, they average 150,000 guests annually.

“I enjoy seeing it grow. We are really excited that it started from such as small event and has grown into a tradition for people,” Lorenz-Bass shared. “It started with 58 (displays) and this year we’re up to 142.”

Nature in Lights has 300 displays in their inventory, but they rotate them out, to keep things fresh and exciting, while also adding newly created displays year after year. The team also change the locations of lights along the route, so it is fresh for returning visitors.

“It’s very rewarding. We’re proud of it and we’re glad that the community supports it and the sponsors are wonderful,” Lorenz-Bass said. “We’re just delighted that we can keep doing it year after year.”

Nature in Lights display
A huge Peace on Earth display shows a pair of doves wrapping the earth in red ribbon at the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area's Nature in Lights attraction at Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 6. Nature in Lights is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with the theme, "Twinkling for 25." The attraction is open nightly Nov. 12 through Jan. 2. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

This year’s theme is “Twinkling for 25,” and Lorenz-Bass said visitors are guaranteed to find some surprises along the 5.5-mile route. One thing she revealed was that people will see signs denoting 25 years located along the route.

Nature in Lights is now open to the public, Nov. 12 through Jan. 2. Hours are 5:30-11 p.m. Visitors coming Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays will receive the 14th annual commemorative Christmas ornament, celebrating 25 years of Nature in Lights, while supplies last. Cost is $20 per car, van or pick-up; $35 for 15-passenger van, limo or RV; $55 for 24-passenger van; and $80 for 47-passenger bus.

Santa’s Village is back this year, where children have the opportunity to visit with the big man himself. It will be open Thursdays through Sundays, Nov. 18-Dec. 5 and nightly from Dec. 9-24.

Before visiting Nature in Lights, Lorenz-Bass said children can go on a pony ride at BLORA Ranch, which is located just off Cottage Road, before entering the park. Pony rides are $5 per person.

An added surprise this year is the addition of Sole Night from 6-8 p.m., Jan. 8.

“The Saturday after we close, we’ll be doing ‘Sole’ Night, so people can walk or run through the lights,” Lorenz-Bass added.

For additional information, visit www.hood.armymwr.com or call (254) 285-5459.