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Big Butler Holiday Spectacular ‘making memories’ for second year

A car enters the Light Tunnel at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular
A car enters the Light Tunnel at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular at the Big Butler Fairgrounds in Franklin Township on Nov. 21. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

The Big Butler Holiday Spectacular has returned for its second year in the county, now boasting over 190 holiday displays to light up the long winter nights.

“You just never know what’s around the corner here,” organizer Tom Napierkowski said. “And we’re making memories — that’s our real slogan.”

Winding throughout the Big Butler Fairground, the second annual Holiday Spectacular runs daily through Jan. 1, 2024, from 5:30 to 11 p.m.

Napierkowski, a neon glassblower by trade, said he and his partners at Freedom Entertainment designed and mounted the 2 miles of lights with an eye for the unforgettable.

“You’re going to get a whole bunch of everything Christmas: characters, holly and drive-under mistletoe to give a kiss,” he said. “We have massive, huge presents that you can drive a box truck under. We have three drive-through tunnels.

“We even have Bigfoot.”

All of it set to music and digitally controlled by a master computer, according to Napierkowski.

“It’ll sparkle to the music, or it’ll change to the music,” he said. “It’ll flash or spell out things in time to the beat of the music.”

With the display opening up to the public Nov. 17 this year, Napierkowski said organizers have been “surprised” with the overwhelming turnout.

Also the organizer for the Big Butler Parts A Rama, he said he has been preparing for the Holiday Spectacular since the auto-part swap meet ended this summer.

“I’ve been designing and fabricating — me and my family — since June,” he said. “It’s a labor of love, you know.”

Christmas trees shine at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular
Christmas trees shine at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular at the Big Butler Fairgrounds in Franklin Township on Nov. 21. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
‘A labor of love’

But that labor began as a personal challenge, according to Napierkowski, with him and his partners setting out over a year ago to provide a quality holiday lights show for the county.

“There are three of us that are good friends, and we just decided, ‘Let’s give it a go,’” he said with a laugh. “And instead of decorating our houses, we do 2 miles of drive-through lights now.”

The experience, he said, emulates displays like the former Hartwood Acres Celebration of Lights in Allegheny County.

“So many people have great memories of that, going with your family,” he said. “I do. My son does.”

To that end, he teased a new attraction for next years’ annual Holiday Spectacular.

“Next year we will be duplicating a lot of those old displays,” he said. “There will be a Hartwood-remembered area.”

Napierkowski said Freedom Entertainment has been working with one of the original artists who helped build the well-known Celebration of Lights.

“He has a lot of the original drawings and says he’s willing to share with us,” he said. “So we’re going to redo it.”

For now, the second annual Big Butler Holiday Spectacular will welcome carloads of friends, families and lovers through New Year’s Day, with tickets per car costing $30 Monday through Thursday and $40 Friday through Sunday.

“You can buy them online on our website, or we go through another website called Eventbrite,” Napierkowski said. “You can pre-purchase, or you can just come to the gate and pay to get in — go out on a whim.”

Napierkowski reiterated that the event is all about “family and memories.”

“When you have nothing, you always have those — family and memories,” he said. “That’s really important. I hope everyone starts getting back to the family events.”

A car enters the light tunnel at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular
A car enters the light tunnel at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular at the Big Butler Fairgrounds in Franklin Township on Nov. 21. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Lights at The Big Butler Holiday Spectacular
The Big Butler Holiday Spectacular at the Big Butler Fairgrounds in Prospect feature gingerbread men on Nov. 21. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
A snow globe is part of the light display at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular
A snow globe is part of the light display at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular at the Big Butler Fairgrounds in Franklin Township on Nov. 21. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Santa’s face glows at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular
Santa’s face glows at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular at the Big Butler Fairgrounds in Franklin Township on Nov. 21. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
A car enters the giant present at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular
A car enters the giant present at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular at the Big Butler Fairgrounds in Franklin Township on Nov. 21. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
A car enters the giant present at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular
A car enters the giant present at the Big Butler Holiday Spectacular at the Big Butler Fairgrounds in Franklin Township on Nov. 21. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

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