- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

TITTABAWASSEE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - For the first time in nearly a decade, Gary Shepard’s Freeland home isn’t the canvas for an animated, musical holiday light show.

Instead, for the 2014 holiday season, Shepard worked with the local community to set up the annual Freeland Christmas Light Display at the Tittabawassee Township Park. The display, which lights up for 18 shows per night, started Dec. 1.

“I was approached by the park in years past,” Shepard told The Saginaw News ( https://bit.ly/1tS9xVf ).

In the past, the request to move the show never came early enough for proper preparations, Shepard explained. This year, though, he started planning the show in January, giving him plenty of time to prepare for the switch.

With the additional space provided at the park, Shepard hit of personal goal of using more than 100,000 lights for the animated show. And, according to Shepard, the massive show is running without a hitch.

“Everything’s been going good,” he said.

As Shepard mentions on his website, freelandlights.com, another benefit of setting up at the park is the expanded parking area for those viewing the show.

Those who visited at Shepard’s home in past years will remember that the only parking available was on the side of the road, but the Tittabawassee Township Park has a large parking area across from the light display.

While you can enjoy the show from your car, by tuning your radio to 93.9 FM to hear the synced-up holiday tunes, there is one reason you might want to emerge from your vehicle.

As in past years, collection containers are set up for donations. All the proceeds raised this season will go to benefit the Child Abuse and Neglect Council of the Great Lakes Bay Region and Saginaw Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity.

Last year alone, the show raised about $6,000 for the CAN Council. Over the years, the show has netted tens of thousands of dollars for charity.

Habitat for Humanity was added to the fundraising effort for the first time this year.

Shepard said he isn’t sure whether the change of venue for this year’s show will lead to increased donations for the two local nonprofits.

“We’ll be happy with what we get,” he said. “It all goes directly to charity.”

Visitors will find the lights dancing to holiday tunes during 12-minute show times starting at 5:30 p.m. and replaying every 15 minutes until 9 p.m., when a longer 20-minute show will repeat four times. The final show of the evening starts at 10 p.m.

The shows continue each night until Jan. 1.

Songs featured during this year’s show include:

- “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” - Berlin Symphony Orchestra

- “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” - Burl Ives

- “Wizards in Winter” - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

- “Sleigh Ride” - Peter Hofmann & Deborah Sasson

- “Hooked on Can Can” - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

While Shepard hasn’t made any concrete plans for 2015, he said the show will likely return for another season.

“I think we’ll do it again, he said.

___

Information from: The Saginaw News, https://www.mlive.com/saginaw

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