Star Power 

Starry Nights at Shelby Farms is always an impressive sight, with its animated displays featuring 2 million LED Christmas lights. But finally, after more than two decades of evolution, the event will finally star an actual star. In this case, the almost perfectly spherical, hydrogen- and helium-based plasma ball we call the sun.

It takes a lot of juice to turn Shelby Farms into a wild winter wonderland, where woodland creatures have been caught playing the holiday blues while Godzilla splashes in a lake nearby. This season, Starry Nights partnered with Sharp Electronics to make a portion of the exhibit run on the sun.

Natalie Wilson, events coordinator for the Shelby Farms Conservancy, says the limited solar experiment is only a first step: "It's a process. But is my goal to make Starry Nights all solar? It absolutely is.

"This is the first time this has ever been done in the nation," Wilson adds, noting that this light show has a history of innovation. "Most shows are moving toward using LED lights, and we were one of the first to do that as well. Now that we're doing solar, people are calling from all over the country and asking how we're doing it and if it makes sense economically. We're going to have those answers."

Wilson says more than 130,000 people will visit Starry Nights this year. "This is a chance to show people that solar energy at home is possible, and it's becoming more affordable and practical every year," she says.

The sun and Sharp tech-powered displays will depict Santa and his sleigh and some dancing reindeer.

Starry Nights at Shelby Farms Park runs from November 23rd to December 28th. Shelbyfarmspark.org/starrynights

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