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'Gift of Lights' returns to NH Motor Speedway

LOUDON - The New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday will begin its second-annual Gift of Lights, a 51-day holiday celebration that brought the equivalent of six NASCAR race cars' weight in food donations to those in need at its inaugural event last year.

Set up over a two-mile segment at the speedway, the celebration features more than 40 holiday-inspired scenes, including more than 400 light displays. It features a 250-foot-long Tunnel of Lights, which was very popular last year, said Kristen Costa, director of communications at NMHS.

The speedway has made the event, which it calls a "holiday drive-thru illumination show," twice as long as last year's because of its success.

"It's a great family event that helps benefit the community through donations of food," Costa said.

This year's scenes include the 12 Days of Christmas; a Nativity scene; an "Under The Sea" display with mermaids, castles and fish; a Victorian Village complete with skiers and snowmobilers; a Candy Land scene; a scene saluting military; a zoo scene; and, of course, a NASCAR scene.

The event is open every day from Friday to Jan. 5 from 4:30-9 p.m. The cost for is $15 per car Monday through Thursday, and $20 per car Friday through Saturday.

"Anyone that brings three or more cans of non-perishables will receive a discount," Costa said.

Part of the proceeds from the event will benefit the New Hampshire chapter of Speedway Children's Charities, or SCC. Last year's event drew about 15,000 cars, bringing more than $30,000 to local children's charities through the SCC, Costa said.

All food will be donated the Loudon Food Pantry. Last year more than 22,000 pounds was donated.

Costa said the light show will be energy-efficient. Nearly 90 percent of the lights involved are LEDs, which use nearly 90 percent less energy and produce a brighter light than incandescent bulbs, she said. The event features out-of-car experiences as well. Photo opportunities with Santa and Milo the Moose will be available. On select weekends, the W.I.L.D. Center and Zoological Park of New England of Rochester will be on hand with an arctic wildlife display with live animals.

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

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