Like most people growing up in Norfolk County, Port Dover’s Lucas Wilson always attended the Simcoe Christmas Panorama River of Lights.
“I think it’s part of every family’s tradition, you go to Panorama,” said the record holding illusionist. “We go on Christmas Eve and check out the lights and displays. I love it, I’ve loved it my entire life.”
As a huge fan of Halloween, Wilson has presented Skeletons on Leslie – an all ages light show – for a few years now, and this winter wanted to add to the county’s popular holiday destination.
He got in touch with members of the Panorama and asked if he could put together a display for the 60th anniversary, one that pays homage to a film that debuted in 1993.
“I just contacted them and said ‘I’ve got this idea, would you be interested in me putting something together?’” Wilson explained. “In the back of my head I was like ‘it’s got to be The Nightmare Before Christmas, I have to mix the two passions together’. I love Halloween, I love Christmas and I also know The Nightmare before Christmas is like a religion to certain people.”
The Panorama board granted Wilson his wish and provided him a new display case. Wilson, who has appeared on NBC’s Today Show in New York and CBC’s Dragon’s Den in Toronto, got to work immediately.
“I just started from the ground up. I built everything from scratch,” he said.
“It was similar to what I do with Halloween but something different because I had never really built an actual character.”
Wilson made three different outfits to perfect a look for Jack Skellington, the film’s main character. Alongside a moving Skellington and his hand-painted pinstriped suit is his trusty sidekick, a ghost dog named Zero.
“It was my 9-5 job for a couple weeks to get it up,” Wilson smiled. “Even Jack’s body took three different forms until we got to the final shape, which isn’t the perfect Jack Skellington shape but we’re also hiding three motors inside of his body to create that motion.”
The display has been a hit with young and old alike.
“I’m just so happy that it turned out so well and people are enjoying it,” Wilson said during an interview last week.
That afternoon the Holy Trinity graduate attended Wellington Park to touch up his display.
“I take a lot of pride in it and the fact that Panorama entrusted me with a brand new display,” he said. “I want to keep it fresh and looking great.”
Being part of the Christmas Panorama is a “dream come true” for Wilson, who currently holds four Guinness World Records.
“It’s so amazing to think that I’m a small, little part of people’s Christmas traditions now,” he said. “When I saw my name on the display I said ‘this is so cool’. My entire childhood and adulthood, going there and seeing the names and displays of the companies and dreaming ‘wouldn’t it be cool if my name was on there’ and to actually have that … and it was built from the ground up, the painting, the sanding, the sowing, the sculpting, it’s unbelievable.”
The display is available to be seen in Wellington Park just north of the booth selling apple cider to support the Tumaini Children’s Foundation Panorama runs from 5:30-11 p.m. each evening until Jan. 6.