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Meike Peters
Lighted displays in the shape of Christmas trees reflect off Salem Pond.

'Tis the season of light in Utah Valley from Spanish Fork to Lehi.

Utah's first drive-through Christmas lights display is in its 15th year: Spanish Fork's Festival of Lights at Canyon View Park, just west of the Spanish Oaks Golf Course.

More than 1 million colorful lights showcase the displays and add to the fun and excitement of the holiday season, said spokesman Steve Money.

"Stay warm in your car as you drive through this winter wonderland holiday-light spectacular," he said.

However, for the more adventurous, the festival has added a new attraction. Holiday hayrides leave the Spanish Oaks Golf Course Clubhouse parking lot on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in December prior to Christmas at 6 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

Hayrides must be prebooked and prepaid. Costs range from $40 with up to 20 riders to $60 with as many as 40 riders. For more information call the city parks and recreation office at 798-5068.

As in years past, traditional holiday themes circle the mile-long stretch of animated structures and include a dragon, dinosaurs, leaping frogs and bears.

Favorite displays include a large toyland, castle, tunnels of lights, a waving Santa Claus, polar bears, reindeer, penguins, skiers, toys and other exhibits.

A North Wind structure "blows" while a bear catches fish.

The event continues nightly through New Year's Day, from 6-10 p.m. Cost is $5 per carload or $25 per bus. Gift certificates are available at the Spanish Fork City offices for $5. A visual tour at www.spanishfork.org (under events) is available for a preview, Money said.

To get there, take southbound I-15 to Exit 258, or northbound I-15 to Exit 257. Travel southeast, along U.S. 6 for five miles. Turn right at Little Acorn Drive-In and Chevron sign. Drive over the bridge a few hundred feet further and look for the entrance on the right.

For more information, contact Spanish Fork City at 798-5000.

Nearby Salem is in its fifth year in creating strands of lights to look like holiday trees reflecting on Salem Pond. The light displays are on tethered rafts and are sponsored by local merchants and residents. Residents are invited to drive around the pond to view the lights free of charge.

"It's something you gotta see," said Jeff Nielson, city recorder.

The event started after Thanksgiving with Clyde and Eva Bradford of Spanish Fork bringing Santa Claus in on their lighted carriage to flip the switch, turning on the lights.

A choir made up of elementary school children sang Christmas carols as did the Salem City royalty: Ashley Alaris, Madison Mitchell, Jessica Gardner and Brooke Christensen.

The Bradfords have offered half-hour carriage rides around the decorated pond for four years, which many customers use for special events such as wedding anniversaries, birthdays and company or family parties.

They average about three marriage proposals a year and have already had their first one this season, said Eva Bradford.

The carriage is available from 5:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., she said. Call 798-7612 to make reservations.

Further north in Lehi, 11 million lights await sightseers who want to drive through Thanksgiving Point's Holiday Lights display.

The lights celebrate the Christmas story as portrayed by LDS religious artist Simon Dewey.

Patrons can drive through in their own vehicle for $7 per car or reserve a place in the venue's wagon ride for $3 each; carriage for $20 each, limit four passengers; or trolley for $50, limit 25 passengers. Reservations are available at 801-768-3300. Buses are permitted for $25.

Hours are from 6-10 p.m. through Dec. 29. On Christmas Eve only cars are allowed. Hours then are 6-8 p.m.


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