“It’s all about happiness, bringing smiles, bringing cheer,” said Bill Schrader, owner and creator of the Christmas Lite Show. “Sometimes during the holiday season it gets stressful. This, you can put a smile on everybody’s face for the young and the old.”
It was founded by Schrader 20 years ago, after he got the idea to do it from a friend. He went about trying to find a good location and landed on what was then Old Kent Ballpark.
Through the years, the show has grown considerably.
“It’s grown. We had about a half-mile when we started with the lights, making different figurines and different displays, and making automation,” he said. “Right now, I’ve gone from about a half a mile to almost 2 miles long. I went from about a half-million lights to well over a million lights today, 20 years later.”
The 2-mile light show now includes more than a million lights, 40 animated displays and three 100-foot lighted tunnels.
“People like the tunnels,” Schrader said.
He said more than 50,000 people are expected to visit in 12,000 to 15,000 vehicles. While people enjoy the tunnels, they also express favorite animated scenes and displays, such as the Nativity scene, a fisherman catching a fish and some basketball players.
“Depends on the person,” Schrader said. “The Nativity scene is really nice, really good. ... A lot of them like our different displays.”
New this year is a “Memory Lane Train,” which people can ride through the show for an extra cost of $8. The trip takes about 30 minutes to go through the show on the train.
“We just had our maiden voyage last night, and they loved it,” Schrader said last week.
Santa also will be on hand for meetings 6-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Dec. 1-3, and Dec. 8-10 and 15-23.
Each year, the show gets bigger. Schrader said it’s worth the effort.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I just love doing it and seeing the expression on people’s faces, kids’ faces when they see different displays, and hearing their remarks.”
The show is open 5:30-9:30 nightly through Dec. 31, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
The cost is $20 for a car, minivan or SUV; $30 for limousines; $40 for minibus or trolleys; and $75 for greyhound/school bus. Tickets for the Memory Lane Train cost $8. Tickets may be purchased online at christmasliteshow.com or at the door.
Fifth Third Ballpark is at 4500 W. River Drive NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321.