After success, planning for next year’s Candyland begins this week

Published 12:44 am Thursday, January 3, 2019

Even as City of Andalusia employees were hard at work starting to put away all of the pieces Candyland on the first work day of the new year Wednesday, members of the city council were talking with staff members about its success and how to make it better in 2019.

City employees and chamber officials will have a debriefing on Friday, Director of Planning Andy Wiggins said.

Mayor Earl Johnson said among the ideas already being discussed are adding another lane to the Polar Bear Slide, and potentially setting up a second skating venue for younger children.

“That way, you don’t have to worry about smaller children being run over,” he said.

“We also could work with a contractor to do a carousel,” he said. “That would help us spread the crowd out more. I think we’ve got to add a little something different to keep people’s interest up.”

National publicity for the event also added to this year’s crowds.

In November, Country Living magazine ranked Andalusia and Candyland among the Top 30 places in the nation for Christmas., and Atlanta Magazine featured the venue in early December.

On Dec. 12, Candyland was in the national news again when the homepage of featured a Reader’s Digest story titled “The Best Christmas Town in Every State.

Director of Planning Andy Wiggins said the city took in about $28,000 in revenue at the Springdale venue, where the only charges were for skate rental and the polar bear slide.

“Everybody thought that Sat., Dec. 15, was our biggest day because of Cocoa with Characters,” Wiggins said. “But we actually had a bigger day on Saturday the 22nd. The crowd was spread throughout the day as opposed to condensed into the time the characters were there.”

The city sold 3,129 skating tickets, he said.

Parks and Rec Director Tommie Agee, who joined the city in 2018, said he had been told about Candyland’s success, but really didn’t comprehend the crowds and the work until he experienced it.

“Our staff from the city did an outstanding job,” he said. “Those guys and those young ladies were here every day. My hat goes off to them. They put in a lot of hours.”

Councilman Ralph Wells thought his daughter Kim, who lives in Alaska, might have travelled the greatest distance to Candyland, but Wiggins said he met a couple from South Africa who was in Panama City and heard about the event.

Johnson expressed his thanks to the Chamber of Commerce for its creativity in adding to the event, and to city workers for their execution of the details.