Gift of Lights to sparkle at new location

Call it a Christmas light miracle.

Just when it seemed the annual holiday light show, Gift of Lights, would go dark after losing its host site, an unlikely partner stepped forward with a plan. Instead of Sunset Park, where the show has been since its inception 10 years ago, the Gift of Lights will shine at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 7000 Las Vegas Blvd. North.

"We were really having difficulty finding a new place to hold it," organizer Brenda Meehan says. Recently, her company, Meehan and Associates, was unable to negotiate a financial agreement with Clark County over the use of the park. "It was announced we couldn't do the event. And then, miraculously, the speedway came to us."

The show kicks off Friday and will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and holidays, through Jan. 2.

More than 400 holiday-themed light displays, including one that's the size of a football field, will be featured during this year's show. Attendees can expect the usual mix of displays as well as a few added for some "extra wows," Meehan says.

The attraction has been steadily converting to LED lighting. The energy-efficient lights give off a crisp, brighter glow, she says. They also have added snow to a display, for the first time.

The Gift of Lights has been a fixture in the valley since Meehan and her husband, Chris, launched it in 2000. Meehan got the idea for it after visiting a similar display in Los Angeles.

While the event is for-profit, organizers have incorporated a charitable component, giving discounts on admission in exchange for donations to Goodwill. This year, the Meehans are offering a 10th anniversary special: Those who donate a bag of gently used items on Mondays through Wednesdays will get in for $10 per vehicle, a $5 savings off admission. On all other days, a donation will get $2 knocked off of the $15 charge.

In keeping with tradition, organizers will offer a free community night, this year from 5 to 9 p.m. on Monday . Donations for Goodwill are encouraged but not necessary. All vehicles will get in for free, Meehan says.

In past years, Gift of Lights has averaged between 25,000 and 29,000 vehicles, Meehan says. She has no idea what to expect at this year's new location.

"We don't really have any expectations because it's new," Meehan says. "I think because we're a mature event, we'll get people who come out every year. I think we'll get people from the other side of town that we never had before."

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@review or 702-380-4564.