BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Many Kern community members know and enjoy the festive and magical HolidayLights at CALM, but what you may not know is how it started.
“I’ve always loved lights as a child, it’s still something that has never grown out of me.” Josh Barnett, president and owner of Lightasmic, said.
Barnett is the man behind the magic.
Barnett said his passion started when he was just a kid. He used to put up Christmas lights at his Nana’s house. This passion has grown into the light show we know and love today.
Barnett’s said his Nana lived in Kern City and she let him do some “crazy things” like covering her lawn in a tarp to make it look like an ice skating rink and her whole house in lights.
Barnett said, “Just bringing some joy to that community was so much fun, I would be out there setting up lights and neighbors would come over.”
This year, a group of about 10 to 20 people started working on the HolidayLights show around August. The show takes drivers through several different “lands” as they ranging from Bakersfield to CALM Cove and the Dinosaur Exploration.
Barnett says they “create these worlds with sound effects and light,” adding, “it’s almost like you’re driving into a snow globe.”
“So like when you’re going into our first land, which is Bakersfield, and you have rings around the music notes, we hand bent all those metal rings to string lights on … it all has to be done by hand,” Barnett said.
The Lightasmic group put rebar in the ground, welded the shape of the metal and put the lights on them.
“It’s awesome, we have an amazing team… my wife [Vicki] is the one who actually oversees the lights at CALM while I’m out traveling going to Utah and Texas … [she’s] the one who is largely responsible for what you see out there,” Barnett said.
According to CALM event organizers, the HolidayLights show is ranked in the top 10 light shows in the western U.S. by the Los Angeles Times and among the 10 Best Zoo Light Shows in the U.S. by USA TODAY.
Barnett gives recognition to Vicki and the team. Especially for the seagulls Barnett said Vicki pushed for flying around this year’s HolidayLights show.
Sometimes Barnett even tries to get his and Vicki’s 10-year-old son involved.
Barnett said he and his company, Lightasmic, have also set up displays in North Carolina, Texas and Utah. Lightasmic is already thinking and planning things for next year’s event in different states.
This is the third year the HolidayLights at CALM has been a drive-thru event, Barnett told 17 News.
To see these lights you can visit the event Monday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. until Dec. 31, according to event organizers. HolidayLights is closed Dec. 25.
Tickets are $30 per vehicle on the CALM website or gift store. Tickets at the gate will be $40 but they are not guaranteed.