Christmas was a special occasion for Narciso “Butch” Bando, a local business owner of Butch Bando Concrete in the Delaware area. His family remembers how their dad had a way of making everyone feel welcome. He loved to make people laugh and helped those in need. Butch was always looking for a way to make a difference in the world.
Twenty-three years ago, the family established the original drive-thru light show for Columbus at Alum Creek State Park Campground. It is still family owned and operated, and is open each evening at 5:30 p.m. through Jan. 1.
For Butch, the holidays were a chance to share the joy and help others. People in the area always tell stories of his loving nature, generous spirit and cheesy jokes. Even though he passed away years ago, the family decided in 2017 to rename the light show the Butch Bando Fantasy of Lights in his honor.
More than 300 displays with tunnels and light walls are filled with bright LED lights. Their 500-foot customized light wall is stunning and one of a kind. Reindeer hop over your car as you drive through the display, and you’ll see gingerbread men do tumbling acts. Of course, there’s a giant Christmas tree along the way.
See a nativity scene with Mary kneeling at the manger, dancing fish, a tribute to our military, and an Ohio-themed light display at the end where you can get out of your vehicle for a photo. There’s action on every corner of this 31-minute experience which covers about three miles. New displays are added each year.
Delaware Area Career Center students created, the official Fantasy of Lights radio station for the musical background as you drive through the light show. This partnership gives students in multiple fields opportunities for real-world application of their skills.
Recognizing the military’s commitment to serving our country, Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights will mark Military Appreciation Week with free admission for active military members and spouses with valid identification Dec. 26-30. Veterans will be admitted for $10.
Weekends are a busy time here so if you can visit during the week, your wait time will be shorter and the drive will be smoother. Plus, there is a $10 weekday discount. They are open rain, snow, or wind. During severe weather, check their Facebook for updates.
Make Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights a family tradition as they support many local charities all year long. Included are A Kid Again, a local charity that supports families with children living with life-threatening diseases, Recreation Unlimited for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities, 3rd and Goal which is making a difference in veterans’ lives, SEAL KIDS and Steps for Sarcoma.
While there you might want to visit Santa’s House at Cross Creek Camping Resorts, part of the Alum Creek State Park. It’s just 30 seconds down the street from the Fantasy of Lights. Check their schedule to see when Santa is available for pictures.
Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights is located at 33115 Old State Road, Delaware. The cost per vehicle from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Monday to Thursday is $20, while from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the cost is $30. For more information, visit their website at www.butchbandosfantasyof lights.com.