Texas Christian Camp Invests In 100s Of ADJ IP-Rated Fixtures For Holiday Light Experience
Lone Star Lights is a family-friendly Christmas light experience hosted at Carolina Creek, the Christian camp located an hour north of Houston, TX. ADJ was selected by Carolina Creek as the exclusive supplier of entertainment lighting for the event, with equipment supplied via Alabama-based Team Wilson Media. Its various areas, exhibits and attractions are illuminated by a variety of ADJ IP65-rated fixtures, including Hydro Series moving heads, HEX Series static washes and battery-powered Mirage Q6 uplighters.
Established in 2002, Carolina Creek offers overnight summer youth camps as well as year-round retreat facilities for churches, youth organizations and civic organizations, as well as corporate team building events. Hosting thousands of young people in the summer and busy most of the rest of the year, the holiday season has historically been a quiet time for the camp. Therefore, Lone Star lights was brought to life to utilize the site during the downtown and simultaneously rise funds for the organization which awards hundreds of scholarships each year to campers from urban/inner city communities.
Running for its second season in 2023, Lone Star Lights took place select nights each week from the last Friday in November thru Friday December 22. The huge walkthrough experience featured over a million Christmas lights spread across 17 acres and arranged into a series of thematic zones. From classic Christmas scenes to unique-Texas-inspired designs, the Insta-worthy light displays sat alongside a series of interactive experiences. These included wrangler-led trail rides, a petting farm with 40+ animals, a 6000 sq. ft. light maze, a Candy Cane Lane complete with the scent of peppermint, a zip line, a high ropes course, and three performance stages featuring live music and dance presentations.
Lone Star Lights also featured a larger than life nativity: a specially-commissioned 9-piece nativity set which visitors were encouraged to walk around to discover excerpts from the Christmas story told from the perspective of the various different characters. Another key attraction was the Snow Zone, where approximately 40,000lbs of ice was trucked in daily, shredded and blown on to a sledding hill and interactive play area where kids of all ages were encouraged to enjoy friendly snowball fights! Meanwhile, younger visitors were enthralled by Rolly The Talking Reindeer. This custom-made animatronic was able to see and hear, allowing direct interaction with guests.
There were three ways for guests to experience Lone Star Lights. The first was simply to purchase a Park Experience ticket for an evening of exploring the site. The second was to book the Dinner Theatre show. This combined an exclusively commissioned production from the A.D. Players, Houston’s premiere Christian-based theatre company, with a 4-course holiday dinner prepared by the camp’s onsite culinary team. After the show, guests were then able to go out and experience everything else Lone Star Lights has to offer. Finally, families could stay overnight in a selection of lodge rooms or private cabins, which were all specially decorated for the holidays.
To illuminate the various communal areas and themed zones of Lone Star Lights, Carolina Creek invested in a significant quantity of ADJ’s IP65-rated HEX IP Series of robust and versatile LED wash fixtures. 7P HEX IP, 12P HEX IP and 18P HEX IP pars were all utilized to up-light trees and decorative elements as well as to illuminate paths and communal areas. In addition 32 HEX Panel IP and 15 HEX BAR IP panel and linear fixtures were also utilized, with their zone control feature used to add interest through programmed color chase sequences.
The only entertainment lighting fixtures that are permanently installed at Carolina Creek are COB Cannon Washes, which are utilized as house lights in one of the camp’s worship centers, and a collection of HEX IP Series wash units, which are used to illuminate the Aerial Park high ropes course to allow late night use during the camp season. The rest of the camp’s fixtures are deployed in different locations and for different purposes during Lone Star Lights than for the summer camps and other events throughout the year.
This flexibility and diversity of use was an important consideration that informed the purchasing decision, as Carolina Creek’s Director of Creative, Production & Digital Services, Wes Armstrong, explains: “One of the things we really looked for when choosing the lighting fixtures for Lone Star Lights was versatility. It doesn’t make sense for us as an organization – both financially and in terms of our value of good stewardship – to sit on equipment and not use it for 320 days of the year. So, everything had to be IP-rated and have a dual purpose, so that it could be used for Lone Star Lights but also redeployed across the park for camps and other special events at different times of the year. The extreme versatility offered by the ADJ fixtures we selected is phenomenal. Not only can we make use of them all year round, it allows us to reimagine what Lone Star Lights might look like from year to year as we’re not stuck in a box because we purchased fixtures for specific purposes, instead we purchased a lighting toolkit that has infinite possibilities.”
Carolina Creek’s significant investment in ADJ fixtures was facilitated by Team Wilson Media, a full-service AVL company based in the Birmingham, AL metro area with extensive experience of resourcing churches and other Christian organizations. The company’s General Manager, Nick Campfield, served as Project Manager and worked closely with Wes to select the right fixtures, procure them, and deploy them across the site. Nick and Wes first met in the ADJ booth at a worship technology event some five years ago, when the idea for Lone Star Lights was still only a snowflake of an idea. However, the pair stayed in touch and when the project was officially greenlit Nick arranged for a variety of fixture options to be demo’ed at the campgrounds. While extensive work went into choosing the specific fixtures and quantities that would be required, the decision to use ADJ equipment was made early on.
“There were a lot of reasons for choosing ADJ as our exclusive lighting supplier for this project,” explains Nick. “The product is solid, and the reliability is really good; considering the number of fixtures involved, it’s incredible that there have been almost no issues with any of them! ADJ’s fantastic customer service was another key factor. It’s rare to find a company that provides such a personal level of pre- and post- sale service. Not only can I, as the dealer, make a phone call and get product support straight away, I know the same is true for Wes, as my customer.”
In addition to the static wash lighting, Carolina Creek also invested in ADJ’s Hydro Series of IP65-rated automated luminaires, opting for a combination of Hydro Profile and Hydro Spot 2 fixtures. These were deployed in various areas around the site, serving a variety of different purposes. For example, profile fixtures were positioned on truss towers in front of the central Lone Star Stage performance space and used to project background illumination breakup patterns in between acts and then switch to key light when performers were on stage. Meanwhile, an example of the how the spot fixtures were utilized was in a themed area called Fractal Forest, where six fixtures – each set to a different color and setup with a GOBO pattern and slow-rotating prism – filled a forest glade with light to create a magical environment.
“The Hydro Series fixtures were real game changers for us because of A, their IP-rating, which makes them incredibly flexible and B, their versatility and power, which is phenomenal,” explains Wes. “We previously had a small moving light rig consisting of 12 ADJ Vizi BSW 300s, which we used in our indoor worship center. However, the Hydro fixtures give us so many more options. For Lone Star lights we use the BSW 300s for key light in our dinner theatre production and all the Hydro fixtures are deployed outside. But then in the summer a lot of those fixtures are moved indoors to our worship environments, because of their increased power and feature sets – for example having framing shutters for the key light is very useful! We then move the BSWs down to the stage for use as additional eye candy.”
Just before Lone Star Lights opened for its first season, Wes and Nick carried out an audit of the plans looking for any potential weak spots in the experience they would offer to visitors. They identified the 1.5-mile drive between the public highway and the parking lot as an area for improvement. There was power available at the entrance to the site, used for welcome signage and Christmas lights, however the drive was unlit with no power outlets available. Knowing that a long drive in the pitch blackness would hardly build visitors’ anticipation for a Christmas light attraction, Wes and Nick decided to try using ADJ’s Mirage Q6 IP battery-powered and IP65-rated portable uplighting fixtures. They ordered seven of the Mirage Q6 Pak sets of six and arranged the fixtures at approximately 60-yard intervals along the length of the drive, uplighting trees with splashes of color to welcome visitors as they drove into the attraction. This proved to be so effective that the camp’s Executive Director asked Wes to order seven more cases of the fixtures to increase the frequency on the drive and for use year-round to provide strategic uplighting across the site for special events and themed experiences, both indoors and outside.
Over a year since making the investment and following two full seasons of Lone Star Lights, Wes has been particularly impressed by the durability of ADJ’s IP65-rated fixtures, “I often joke with Team Wilson Media that if a fixture makes it through Lone Star lights then it’s been ‘Texas Tested’,” he shares. “These fixtures have been put through the wringer over the past year, with both cool and extremely hot temperatures. They’ve withstood very wet conditions, and they’ve spent months out in the forest, in the mud, where all kinds of bugs and animals found them, and they’ve lived to tell the tale. Put simply, they have survived camp! Which is testament to their build quality and durability.”
“It is amazing to see how far ADJ has come over the last five years,” adds Nick. “The Hydro Series, and in fact the whole IP65-rated line, are super solid, powerful, and feature-packed fixtures. They are great tools to utilize that offer excellent value for money, which is very important to us. Because we work with a lot of churches and not-for-profit groups we take stewardship very seriously; we view it as God’s money that must be used wisely. But we know that by recommending ADJ we are doing right by our clients because these fixtures offer both reliability and versatility, which ensure they are a sound investment.”
Lone Star Lights at Carolina Creek
Director of Creative, Production & Digital Services
Team Wilson Media
Project Managers / Designers