GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – They call it a labor of love.

With COVID-19 forcing so many holiday traditions this year to either scale back or cancel altogether, Prairie Lights, a by-design drive-thru light show in Grand Prairie, is preparing for even more visitors this year.

On a typical year they can welcome some 165,000 guests.

“Because of the lack of stuff, and everybody just ready to get out and do something normal, Prairie Lights is probably going to have a crazy, busy year,” says Duane Strawn, Grand Prairie’s Director of Parks, Arts and Recreation. “So we’re gearing up to make sure it is as smooth as we can make it. Still going to be long lines, still going to be a wait, but we’re trying to make it as smooth as possible.”

Beginning in late September and working right up until Thanksgiving Eve, crews string some 5 million holiday lights to turn Lynn Creek Park into a holiday paradise.

“It’s a lot of man hours, but it’s all worth it when you see the kids and the families come out and experience what Prairie Lights is all about,” said Strawn.

Not even the pandemic could force them to pull the plug.

Prairie Lights preparations (CBS 11)

“We pride ourselves: COVID or no COVID this is a tradition,” he said.

The pandemic has forced some changes, though.

There will be no out-of-vehicle experiences, no holiday village this year, and Santa will be virtual.

“We do have some drive-thru concessions, but everything is designed to be in your car, hands-free and as safe as we can possibly make it.”

Both safety and familiarity expected to be big draws for the event that begins Thanksgiving night and runs through New Year’s Eve, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. nightly.

Visitors are encouraged to buy tickets online, come early, and consider weeknight visits when lines to enter typically aren’t as long, but Strawn says that anyone in line by 10:00 p.m., will still get to enjoy the park.

“The world is crazy right now,” said Strawn. “We need a little bit of happiness and Prairie Lights brings joy, and happiness and tradition and close family ties in a crazy world.”

He says he can’t get enough of the light explosion, either.

“You think you get tired of it. I love Christmas, and I think we do Christmas better than anybody.”

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