Bates Technical College welding program kicks it up a notch with stalking Sasquatch

Posted: October 26, 2021

A handful of welding program students form the displays, laying out the design and grid on the shop floor.

Most commonly spotted in the Pacific Northwest, the sly Sasquatch will ditch the remote wilderness and make an appearance at this year’s Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park. Built by Bates Technical College’s Welding program students, the bipedal Bigfoot will beguile everyone big and small driving through the park at this annual holiday light display.

For nearly 30 years, Bates students have crafted countless pieces for Fantasy Lights as part of a valued partnership between the college and Pierce County Parks and Recreation, offering our students valuable hands-on experience.

Planning for the college’s display begins much earlier than you might guess and takes students from several programs to contribute to the shimmering sights and jolly sounds of this Northwest tradition.

Each year, Parks and Recreation staff provide the Welding program instructors with a sketch of the proposed design. Then, the students work to match the sketch and tailor the display for use in the park. During fall quarter, a group of eager students formed the displays, laying out the design and grid on the shop floor. This year, students Alex Mendoza, Kyson Young and Julian Boles and Wyatt Parrish bent, cut and welded the pieces together to form the 15-foot by 12-foot framework of the Ape-like creature.

Welding program instructor Eric Johnson welcomes the hands-on education this project brings. “Students are learning bending, fitting, and overall fabrication and welding skills. It’s an excellent experience to prepare them for industry,” noted Johnson.

By mid-October, the project is completed, transferred to the park and dressed with glimmering lights.

Counting the dazzling Bates-built scenes and figures in the park will keep you busy. You can find scores of our students’ work around each bend of the 2.2-mile drive-through event, including last year’s display of Old Man Winter. Bates students have built more than 100 display pieces for Fantasy Lights. The bright, giant pirate ship, rows of sunny daffodils and cherry-red tulips, swimming sea creatures like the whale introduced in 2018, and a troupe of twinkling elves are just a few of the shining displays the college has contributed to Fantasy Lights.

Creative holiday scenes and strong community partners make Fantasy Lights a truly unique and festive experience—one that has become a cherished relationship for the college.

“This rewarding relationship with Fantasy Lights began nearly 30 years ago and shines a light on this truly colorful hands-on learning tradition for our students,” said Dr. Lin Zhou, Bates Technical College president. “Every holiday season, we look forward to being a part of it.”

Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park

Nov. 26 through Jan. 2, 5:30-9 p.m.

About Bates Technical College

Founded in 1940, Bates Technical College is a public college that offers certificate and degree opportunities in 45+ career education programs and serves approximately 3,000 career training students and 5,000 more community members annually in extended learning, distance learning, high school, and other programs. For more information, go to, or call 253.680.7000.



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