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Candyland to be even better

If any neighboring cities have designs on becoming a Christmastime destination, copying Andalusia’s Candyland just got a little bit more difficult, and upstaging it became almost impossible.

The Andalusia City Council agreed Tuesday to invest in making the attractions even better, and to add to the decorations for the now-annual event.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chrissie Duffy presented a slide show with suggested improvements, which include:

  • Making the Polar Bear slide 50 feet longer.
  • Making the ice skating rink larger
  • Adding a Santa’s Sleigh attraction to double as a set for Santa when he visits Candyland, and as a photo backdrop.
  • Extending the lighted tunnel for the train.
  • Adding a Polar Bear ticket booth, from which to sell tickets for ice skating and the Polar Bear slide. Last year, the venues took in $30,000 in ticket sales.
  • Signage for Springdale similar to the Candyland signage used at the entrance to the Square last year.
  • Additional decorations, including enhancements for the Timmerman Building.

Duffy estimated the event drew 30,000 people to the community last year.

“For a small rural town with no beaches or other draws, this is a huge accomplishment,” she said. “While visiting, or tax revenue base has increased by almost 10 percent in the last three years during the month of December. But most importantly, our community takes pride in the event and has found another new reason to be proud of the place we all cherish and call home. “

The council agreed to spend up to $130,000, a portion of which is expected to be offset by sponsorships and ticket sales.

“This can become and continue to be what Andalusia is known for,” Mayor Earl Johnson said. “We have been very successful in getting the community involved in donating toward this event.”

Councilman Terry Powell said, “If we invest the additional money now, it makes it difficult for another town to catch up, and there has been talk of others trying to copy us.”