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Anne Arundel ASPCA offers new finale with old classics at Sandy Point State Park’s Lights on the Bay

“Each year we try to introduce a new theme and and finale ,” said Lights on the Bay project coordinator Katherine Mele. “This year we have the North Pole train stations. The trains are pretty large,”

Lights on the Bay, the traditional outdoor holiday lights show, is a fundraiser for the Anne Arundel ASPCA with money going toward the care of shelter animals. For $20 a carload of up to eight people can take the 20-minute ride through the 2.5-mile boulevard embellished with at least 60 separate light displays.

Mele said this years finale includes three large North Pole train station displays, with one of them being “quite large.” Lights on the Bay includes whimsical scenes as well as returning favorites unique to the Bay area, including Navy Midshipmen and a local lighthouse.

Preparation for this year’s Lights on the Bay began in April, with the selection and ordering of this years displays. Some of the displays erected at the park are owned, while others are rented. Many are custom made by an out-of-state firm that specializes in holiday lights.

“You can’t get these on Amazon,” noted the man in charge of setting up Lights on the Bay, Bob Crain.

“It’s a long process,” Mele agreed.

But the wait can be worth it. Especially with being able to see some of the returning favorites again like the “Teddy” display.

“Our biggest display is Teddy, the giant teddy bear,” Mele said. “One of his ears is as big as a car hood. He’s very popular. Everyone likes the lighted tunnel too.”

Last year traffic was unprecedented at the display, she said. That’s likely due to the fact that it was one of the few relatively safe holiday venues to attend during the height of the pandemic. She doesn’t expect attendance to be that high this year, but said it does get very busy on the weekends.

This year spectators can receive 3D glasses at two for $5. The glasses embellish the view of the displays when users look through them.

“Actually they work on other kinds of incandescent light as well,” she said. Purchasers are free to keep the glasses, so the Lights on the Bay holiday experience can live on beyond the ride.

As noted, even though it may be magical, Lights on the Bay doesn’t happen by magic. Bob Crain, president of Applied Lighting Services in Annapolis, and the crews he works with puts the displays up over several weeks. The hours can be long, up to 14 hours.

“We had a good year weather-wise,” Crain said. “I believe it came together pretty well. I’m hearing good comments.”

Crain has been setting up Lights on the Bay for 26 years now. Both he and Mele had similar tips for viewing the displays.

They said to come on the weekdays when there’s less traffic if you can. And also, try coming during or after a light rain hits the park. Because of the effect rain has on the light displays, viewers are treated to the light reflecting off the water, as well as providing their usual jolly glow.

Whenever you come, organizers just hope you come to the fundraiser. It runs every night from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. until January 2.

“It’s really a great fundraiser for the SPCA ,” Mele said. “They have been an integral part of the show for the last few years.

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