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Crowds and displays larger this season at Winter Light Fest

Winter Light Fest has been busy so far this year. Organizers say ticket sales have been strong, with about 50% more visitors so far this year compared to last year.

The walking tour on the northeast side of Abilene has also grown its display, which increased from two million to nearly three million lights. Matt Robinson, owner of Christmas Decor by Lone Star Electric, makes sure the lights are working in the park. "Seeing the families out here spending time together, and of course the kids (are) smiling and running and having fun. I think it's just great for our community. It's great for families today. I think it’s what we need."

The event raises about $175,000 which the United Way distributes among its 26 partner agencies. Besides the walking trail, visitors can visit Santa and enjoy a maze and fire pits. Organizers are selling s'mores kits and hot cocoa as well. Katie Deal, director of development for the United Way of Abilene, says this year they've also added a virtual reality experience, "You can take a ride on Santa's sleigh with the elves and go all the way up into space and back again. And it's $5 a person to ride; and it’s a lot of fun."

The United Way sells advanced tickets on its website for a lower price than visitors pay at the gate. Winter Light Fest continues this weekend and next, with entry beginning at 6:00 p.m. The walking tour will also be lit-up the week of Christmas, but closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.