Wayne County Lightfest: A Christmas Spectacular

Christmas is a special time of year, when people put aside their differences to celebrate… well, what exactly? Jesus? Nah. Santa Claus? Maybe if you’re three years old. Shopping? We all hate shopping for Christmas presents, right? Family?


But lights? Who doesn’t like Christmas lights? It’s safe to say that Americans spend over a billion dollars on Christmas lights each year. We can’t enough of it.

Metro Detroit is no exception. You can’t go a block without seeing some kind of Christmas display. It could be a wire frame Santa, a pulsating tree of light, or a decked out front porch – something, anything to make the dark, long, bitterly cold nights of winter a little more festive.

The Wayne County Lightfest on Hines Drive (named after Edward N. Hines, to whom we owe the idea of painted center lines on roads) however, takes the cake. Just west of Detroit along the Rouge River, the Wayne County Lightfest stretches on for 4 miles and utilizes more than a million lights, making it the largest light show in the whole Midwest. For $5, you and the family can a take a drive through the Fantasia-like wintry wonderland, oohing and aahing at the county’s prudent use of electricity.

And oh, the colors! If you’ve ever watched the final sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey, prepare yourself for some serious déjà vu. Highlights include a neon brontosaurus eating a palm tree, a parachuting reindeer, and arches of green, red, and yellow that tower over the road.

The highlight, for me, was standing – illegally? – under a cone of ever-changing multicolored lights that moved like meteor showers. I use the word “illegally” because a ranger stopped his truck in front of my parked car and then followed me all the way out of the park, never saying a word but watching me with a hawkish intensity.

Still, it was totally worth it.


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