Four whales breaching in the sparkling waters and a lively lobster dazzle your eyes as you wind your way through Fantasy Lights this year. Reaching between 12 and 17 feet high, the structures are Bates Technical College’s Welding program’s contribution this year. These cheerful displays join a smiling crab and a twinkling octopus in an aquatic setting that students crafted three years ago.

Each year, the ideas for the displays come to the Welding program in the form of sketches from Pierce County Parks and Recreation. Students start as early as July to complete the project. They create metal frames to fit the project’s design.

Welding students began working on the display during summer quarter. Pictured here are David Baszuk, Jesse Breitbarth and Jose’ Rogers.

This year, second quarter student Mike Keller and sixth quarter student David Baszuk built the lobster, and a team of five students, including second quarter student Morgan Rowell, third quarter students Jesse Breitbarth, Jose’ Rogers, Shirley Sagapolu, and fifth quarter student Arturo Perez, built the four whales. The groups planned and laid out the s­­­­teel rods to match the design, and carefully welded the pieces together to form the framework.

The project is completed by the end of October, when a handful of students in the truck driving program transport the large pieces to Spanaway Park for painting. Next, about 40 students enrolled in electronics from either the Biomedical Service Technician: Clinical Engineering or the Electronic Equipment Service Technician programs wire the display with strings of lights that bring life and movement to the displays.

Welding instructor Rick Huston is proud of the long partnership with the organizers of the event. “Our relationship with Pierce County Parks and Recreation has yielded countless hands-on learning opportunities for our students, who are becoming experts in their craft,” he said.  “Students take a great deal of pride in their work, and are always excited to watch their illuminated project set in motion at the park for their families and others to enjoy,” he added.

Bates has built more than 50 displays still in use since Fantasy Lights first switched on the holiday lights in 1995. Counting the resplendent Bates-built scenes and figures in the park will keep you busy. Scores of our students’ work are found around each bend of the 2.2-mile drive-through event. The bright, giant pirate ship, rows of sunny daffodils and cherry-red tulips, and tribes of twinkling elves are just a few of the shining displays the college has contributed to Fantasy Lights over the past 22 years.

Creative holiday scenes and strong community partners make Fantasy Lights a truly unique and festive experience—one that has become a tradition for many, and a cherished relationship for the college.

Our annual participation in Fantasy Lights is a shining example of our community involvement with neighborhood partners.

“Our annual participation in Fantasy Lights is a shining example of our community involvement with neighborhood partners. Fantasy Lights is a fun and rewarding tradition for our students and employees, and we look forward to being a part of it each holiday season,” said Bates Technical College President Dr. Ron Langrell.

Visit Fantasy Lights

Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day
Nov. 24, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017
5:30-9 p.m.
Spanaway Park

About Bates Technical College

Founded in 1940, Bates Technical College is a public college that offers certificate and degree opportunities in nearly 50 career education programs, and serves approximately 3,000 career training students and 10,000 more community members annually in extended learning, distance learning, high school, and other programs. For more information, go to, or call 253.680.7000.