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November 17. 2012 8:24PM

Let there be lights as Speedway presents second annual holiday event


Detailed lighting schemes, featuring 2.5 million lights, are on display at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway through Jan. 5. The annual event raises money for charities that assist children. (DAN SEUFERT/Union Leader Correspondent)

Detailed lighting schemes, featuring 2.5 million lights, are on display at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway through Jan. 5. The annual event raises money for charities that assist children. (DAN SEUFERT/Union Leader Correspondent)
LOUDON - With a flip of a giant Sylvania light switch, New Hampshire Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Gappens kicked off the speedway's second annual Gift of Lights on Friday night.

The event, which runs daily through Jan. 5, features more than 2.5 million colorful lights along a two-mile stretch of road encircling the track. It's twice as long as last year's event, which drew 15,000 cars, speedway officials said.

There are 40 different scenes, including the 12 Days of Christmas, a winter village with skiers and snowmobilers, a salute to military, a zoo and several NASCAR-inspired scenes.

Gappens said last year the event drew raves, particularly from parents and grandparents who brought their families to the light shows.

"I think everybody has a good time and our hope is it becomes a tradition for all kids, from 3 to 93," he said.

The cost of touring the Gift of Lights is $15 per car Monday to Thursday and $20 Friday to Sunday. Tickets for the Gift of Lights can be purchased online at nhms.com or at the gate.

Patrons donating three or more nonperishable food items receive a discount. Last year, 22,000 pounds of food from the event were donated to the Loudon Food Pantry.

The speedway's portion of the proceeds will again be given to the New Hampshire chapter of the Speedway Children's Charities, an organization that cares for children in education, financial, social and medical situations. The SCC distributed more than $30,000 to children's charities throughout New England last year, including those at Concord Hospital.

"We'd like to thank the Speedway Children's Charities for providing funding for The Family Place (maternity ward) last year," said Deanne Pelletier, foundation and corporate relations officer at Concord Hospital, who joined Gappens at the opening ceremony.

Sarah Houck of the Loudon Food Pantry also joined Gappens and thanked the speedway.

"They are able to help us out at a time when there isn't as much food, so it's a big help to us with everything they're able to provide," she said.

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Dan Seufert may be reached at dseufert@newstote.com.

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