CANDYLAND CROWD: Attendance nears 5K on Saturday

Published 12:25 am Tuesday, December 20, 2016

They came from Northwest Florida, from Central Alabama, and from all points in between to enjoy Christmas in Candyland this past weekend.

“The crowd way more than surpassed our wildest dreams,” Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chrissie Duffy said. “We felt like it was crowded when we had 300 people on the Square before. There were at least 1,500 people on the Square on Saturday.”

Jimmy Black might have summed the story up well when he said to his wife, Ashley, an Andalusia Elementary teacher, “I can’t believe these children aren’t saying, ‘Hey, Mrs. Black.’ ”

Her reply?
“I don’t know these children.”

Duffy said, “So we know we are bringing people in from out of town, and it is a great way to shed a positive light on Andalusia.”

“It was amazing,” Mayor Earl Johnson said of the crowds. “We had a full weekend of incredible attendance at an event that drew people to Covington County. This is what we wanted to accomplish with Candyland, and we are pleased with the result.”

At about 7 p.m. Saturday, Aubrey Ogles, 6, posed for a photograph with American Idol standout Jessica Meuse, who had just finished performing. Aubrey’s mom said they drove from Wetumpka to enjoy Candyland and had been in town since about 2 p.m.

When the venue opened Sunday, Duffy said, a family from Clanton was among the first in line.

Between Thursday night and Sunday afternoon, $10,000 in ticket sales were recorded for the tubing and skating venues. At least $7,000 of those sales were on Saturday.

“If you figure for every ticket, there were parents, or grandparents, or a younger kid who didn’t participate, we are guessing we had around 5,000 people here on Saturday,” Duffy said. “We had 960 packs of cocoa on the square, and we ran out – and not everybody wanted cocoa because it was hot.”

The larger numbers were exciting, but also caused growing pains. It was difficult to organize lines on the Square for children and parents waiting to see the Meredith’s Miracles characters.

“We will have to think about changing the venue for that event next year,” Duffy said. “We have definitely outgrown the Square for the hot cocoa and characters event.”

The crowds were back on Sunday, with a line to see Santa forming when the downtown venue opened.

“They were still in line Sunday until it started raining at 3:30,” Duffy said.

Hundreds of area school children have had the opportunity to enjoy the venues on school field trips, which have been scheduled almost every day of December, this year.

The winter skating rink, snow tubing hill and holiday train will be open at Springdale this Thurs., Dec. 22, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m., and on Fri., Dec. 23, from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. On Friday, the featured Merry Movie on the Lawn will be “Prancer” at 7 p.m.

Candyland’s downtown venue will be open from 6 until 8 p.m. Thursday with a snow show at 7 p.m. sharp. It will be open from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Fri., Dec. 23, with a snow show at 6 p.m. sharp.
All Candyland events and attractions will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.