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With over 2.5 million shimmering lights dancing across the grounds at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, executive vice president and general manager Jerry Gappens officially flipped the switch on the 2nd annual Gift of Lights on Friday night.

In front of fans and local media, Gappens, along with representatives from the Loudon Food Pantry and Concord Hospital, turned on the 250-foot long Tunnel of Lights display, giving the over two-mile holiday drive-thru illumination show – which is double the size of last year – a formal kick off before opening to the public at 4:30 p.m.

“We get visitors from Canada, New York state, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island – this really is something that brings people in from all over,” said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the speedway. “I think everybody has a good time and our hope is it becomes a tradition for all kids, from three to 93. This really is something for everyone.”

Open daily from 4:30-9:00 p.m., the Gift of Lights has transformed “The Magic Mile” campus into a virtual winter wonderland of luminosity. With over 400 displays within 40 different scenes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy this holiday season, including the 12 Days of Christmas, a Victorian village with skiers and snowmobilers, a salute to military, a zoo, and, of course, several NASCAR-inspired scenes.

Ninety percent of the lights used in the displays are eco-efficient LEDs.

The speedway’s portion of the proceeds will once again be given to the New Hampshire chapter of the Speedway Children’s Charities, an organization that cares for children in education, financial, social and medical need. The SCC distributed over $30,000 children’s charities throughout New England last year, including Concord Hospital in Concord, N.H.

“We’d like to thank the Speedway Children’s Charities for providing funding for The Family Place (maternity ward) last year,” said Deanne Pelletier, foundation and corporate relations officer at Concord Hospital. “We really appreciate the support the SCC gives us and all that it supports.”

For all patrons that donate three or more non-perishable food items, they will receive a discount on their Gift of Lights tickets. The Loudon Food Pantry received over 22,000 pounds of food thanks to non-perishable donations from over 15,000 car loads of visitors to the speedway for last year’s Gift of Lights.

“We appreciate everything the speedway does to help us, and the Gift of Lights is a perfect example of that,” said Sarah Houck of the Loudon Food Pantry. “They are able to help us out at a time (May-October) when there isn’t as much food, so it’s a big help to us with everything they’re able to provide.”

The Gift of Lights will be open for a total of 51 total days, from Nov. 16 through Jan. 5. The cost (sans discount) is $15 per car load Monday-Thursday and $20 Friday-Sunday. Tickets for the Gift of Lights can be purchased online at www.nhms.com or at the gate.