Welding program students at Bates Technical College Krak down on this year’s display 

Posted: November 27, 2023

The 10-foot Kraken octopus makes its debut at Fantasy Lights  

For nearly three decades, Bates Technical College’s Welding program students have been adding their unique touch to the magical wonder of Spanaway Park’s Fantasy Lights. Year after year, crafting enchanting displays has become a cherished tradition, often featuring iconic symbols of the Pacific Northwest. This holiday season, the tradition continues with a project paying tribute to our beloved Kraken hockey team.  

Standing at an impressive 10 feet tall, the colossal Seattle Kraken octopus sculpture bedazzles with its radiant tentacles, captivating everyone passing through the park during the annual holiday light display.  

This project is a valued partnership between the college and Pierce County Parks and Recreation, offering students invaluable hands-on experience and insight into the planning of such a display, which starts much earlier than one might expect.  

Each year, Parks and Recreation staff provide the Welding program instructors with a sketch of the proposed design, which the students then bring to life. They meticulously lay out the design and grid on the shop floor, then work together to bend, cut, and weld the pieces, forming the three separate components, including the two tentacles and head.  

Welding program instructor, Liberty Olson, welcomes the educational opportunity this project offers. “This project provides students with a terrific opportunity to collaborate and apply their skills. It is rewarding for them to see the final outcome of their hard work,” says Olson.  

By mid-October, the project is completed and transported to the park on a flatbed truck, where it is adorned with shimmering lights for all to enjoy.   

Bates-built scenes and figures can be found around every bend of the 2.2-mile drive-through event, including last year’s display of the Space Needle. Bates students have contributed more than 130 display pieces for Fantasy Lights, including the stalking Sasquatch, the grand pirate ship, rows of sunny daffodils and cherry-red tulips, aquatic creatures like the whale introduced in 2018, troops of twinkling elves, Old Man Winter, and a towering dinosaur, among others.   

The imaginative holiday scenes and strong community partnerships make Fantasy Lights a truly unique and festive experience, forming a cherished relationship for the college.  

Dr. Lin Zhou, President of Bates Technical College, emphasizes the significance of this long-standing relationship, stating, “This rewarding partnership with Fantasy Lights began nearly 30 years ago and highlights this colorful hands-on learning tradition for our students. Every holiday season, we eagerly anticipate being a part of it.”


Welding program students who worked on this year's display pose in front of the frame.

Welding program students who worked on this year’s display pose in front of the frame.