As Mooseheart prepares for its third annual Holiday Lights celebration, the question of "what's new" is easy to answer: Everything.
Working with a new company to provide the displays for the festive 1.8-mile lighted tour of the century-old campus, Mooseheart not only has new displays at every turn -- but also more lights, more animated displays and a more innovative use of the campus' structures than in the previous two years.
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If you goWhat: Third annual Holiday Lights at Mooseheart, featuring more than 80 lighted displays along a 1.8-mile route
When: 5 to 9 p.m. every night, Nov. 23 through Dec. 31
Santa visits: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 7-9, 15-16 and 21-23 in the field house
Where: Mooseheart Child City and School, two miles north of I-88 on Route 31, between Aurora and Batavia
How much: $10 per car; optional $1/pair for 3-D glasses; discount coupon available online
Details: mooseheart.org; (630) 906-3601
What's stayed the same? The number of open days and the price. The Holiday Lights show runs from 5-9 p.m. every day from Nov. 23 through Monday, Dec. 31. The show remains $10 per vehicle, with 3-D glasses available for $1 per pair. One hundred percent of proceeds go to support Mooseheart Child City and School.
"We advertise that there are over 80 displays, but (this year) there are quite a lot more than 80 displays," Mooseheart Executive Director Scott Hart said. "It's going to be a great show. And all the proceeds go to help provide food, clothing and shelter as well as schooling for the children at Mooseheart."
This year, Mooseheart has contracted with Cicero-based Winter Land, Inc. to provide a fresh look to the show.
"There will be a lot more animation," Hart said. "I know children -- as well as adults -- love moving parts. There's going to be a lot of excitement in the mix."
Also new this year is a special lighted display at the stately 1929 New York Home, which is near the midpoint of the show. Hart said this show will evolve over a period of years, but that visitors will be able to tune their radios to an FM station and listen to music while the lights go on and off in a choreographed show.
"There are a number of themes to the show this year," Hart said. "First, there's an ocean theme and then there's a candy cane theme. Then we have a penguin village and that's followed by some heavy equipment. Further from that, we have some reindeer and then we end with a 200-foot solid light tunnel."
That fully-lit tunnel will have lights flashing in a choreographed display as well, and the tunnel leads to one of the favorite parts of the tour for families -- Santa Claus at Mooseheart's field house. Santa will be at the field house eight nights this year from 5:30-8 p.m.: Dec 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23. Children can sit on Santa's lap and adults can bring cameras and take their own pictures.
"I know families will be circling those dates on the calendar because we have had tremendous turnouts on those dates in the past," Hart said. "I've heard children come into the field house and say 'Santa's not here' and look and see him sitting there and say 'Santa is here.' The popularity of the days means you don't want to come late and be disappointed."
In addition to Santa, cookies and hot chocolate will be available in the field house and there will be activities and games along with a bounce house for children to enjoy and burn off some energy.
An online coupon is available at mooseheart.org offering a discount on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and Thursday admission. For details, call (630) 906-3601.