Fantasy Lights: Vibrant Velociraptor shines bright as Welding program’s Jurassic contribution

Posted: December 03, 2020

Bates Technical College’s Welding program students bring life to the prehistoric star of Jurassic World for this year’s Fantasy Lights at Spanaway ParkThe 6-by-10-foot feathered theropod dinosaur will bare his sparkly snarl as visitors drive through the annual event.  

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, Pierce County Parks and Recreation staff provide the Welding program instructor with a sketch of the proposed design. Then, the students work to match the sketch and customize the display for use in the park. A group of eager Welding program students formed the displays during fall quarter, laying out the design and grid on the shop floor. They then bent, cut and welded the pieces together to form the framework of the theropod dinosaur 

Students Melvin Alejandro, Paige Dwyer, Kirk Fitzroy, Ben Hill, Cooper Lyons, Cody Robel and Felicity Matsuda hand-forged nearly 20 pointed teeth using blacksmithing techniques not traditionally taught in the program.  

welding students work on dinosaur teeth

Welding students craft more than 20 dinosaur teeth for the display.

Welding program instructor Pat Normandeau welcomes the hands-on education this project brings. “Students are learning bending, fitting, heat treating and overall fabrication skills along with some welding and blacksmithing. It’s an excellent experience to prepare them for industry, says Normandeau. 

By mid-October, the project is completed, and then a handful of students in the Commercial Truck Driving: Entry Level program transport the large display to Spanaway Park for painting and lighting 

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 WinterBates students have built more than 100 display pieces for Fantasy LightsThe bright, giant pirate ship, rows of sunny daffodils and cherry-red tulips, swimming sea creatures like the whale introduced in 2018and 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 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.” 

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.