Fort Hood’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation hosted its annual VIP Night Nov. 14, thanking all the sponsors for helping present Nature in Lights in its 23rd year.

Nature in Lights, an annual Christmas lights display at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, has steadily become one of the largest events in the area, with more than 150,000 people coming out annually to see the ever-changing display.

“We’re here to celebrate the holidays together and get in the spirit by kicking it off with this event,” III Corps Chief of Staff Col. Hank Perry said during the event. “On behalf of our commanding general and command sergeant major, I truly want to say thanks to our sponsors here tonight, as we kick off our BLORA Nature in Lights.”

The 48 Nature in Lights sponsors are highlighted along the 5.5 mile route.

At the entrance of the park, each Nature in Lights visitor receives a list of all the displays, along with the names of the sponsors.

“This is a great time to thank our sponsors, because they are why the event is able to happen every year for the Soldiers and families,” Rosie Vargas, the sponsorship manager with DFMWR, said.

The event included live music from harpist Gretchen Williams, food, Christmas lights and more. DFMWR pulled out all the stops though, making it “snow” outside the event. As people began arriving, a bubble machine was turned on, making it look like snow was falling.

Perry said since he has been at Fort Hood, his family has made Nature in Lights an annual tradition.

“It is something to behold,” he added. “And you sponsors here make this possible. Just know, what you do makes a difference. You do a wonderful job supporting our Soldiers and families.”

The 5.5 mile route of lights include 140 displays and can take as little as 30 minutes or as long as three hours. There are three stops along the route, each featuring something different.

Santa’s Den has been added this year, a large tent with inflatables for the children to enjoy. Before exiting Nature in Lights, there is a 500 foot tunnel of lights. Vehicles

usually like to go through the tunnel by themselves, so other vehicles do not interfere with photos.

“Think about how tedious that is to make sure you get all the lights together and in place,” Perry told the sponsors. “I just want to say thank you again. Please know that your sponsorship allows the Soldiers and their families to have a great experience here at the Great Place.”

Nature in Lights will run daily from 5:30-11 p.m., through Jan. 5. Tickets are $20 per vehicle. Larger passenger vehicles cost more.

Due to popular demand, T-shirts and Christmas ornaments will be available for purchase this year.

Visitors coming on Mondays through Wednesdays will receive a complimentary Nature in Lights ornament, while supplies last.

Nature in Lights is located at BLORA, 7999 Sparta Road.

For more information or advance tickets, call 254-287-2523.