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CANDYLAND OFFICIALLY OPEN: Candyland organizers ready for the event

Though it was a scaled-back ribbon cutting for Candyland, Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce director Chrissie Duffy said they are excited to get things rolling.

“I’m feeling good about Candyland,” Duffy said. “We have cautiously approached this event throughout this year and tried to make preparations to where we can carry it out in a way where we can bring happy Christmas memories to our family and citizens here in Andalusia, as well as try and put all the precautions we can in place.”

Usually, the ribbon-cutting is spectated by the local kindergarten classes from Andalusia Elementary, but they were not able to come because of COVID-19.

“Of course we missed our kindergartners this year,” Duffy said. “Candyland this year is definitely more of a family event where you can come together and stay together. We are limiting the playhouses to just one family at a time. We also have sanitation stations everywhere and it is supposed to be a four-hour protection barrier. When the snow starts falling around here, it is always a magical experience. We did have a good crowd of kids that showed up today that were so excited for the snow and opening of Candyland. We look forward to a fun weekend.”

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said he and the council are proud of how Christmas in Candyland has evolved.

“We started with just this idea that Chrissie Duffy brought us of play cottages and snow, and look where we are,” Johnson said. “The national recognition the community has gotten for this effort is priceless, and we are glad we are able to do this again this year.”

Though there is no Polar Bear Slide or ice skating, Johnson believes the magic in Candyland is still for all ages this year.

“We know we’ll have some older kids who’ll be disappointed because we’ve had to modify Candyland this year because of the pandemic,” Johnson said. “We agreed early on to forego the Polar Bear Slide and ice skating. But we feel like we’ve put together an event that captures the magic of Christmas in Candyland. Everything is outdoors, which will help with social distancing, and we’ve spread it out even more than usual, and there are more lights than ever.”

With the Christmas spirit in the air, Johnson reminds citizens of different activities going on through the season.

“The holiday has started well with Thursday night’s Christmas parade and Friday’s ribbon-cutting for Candyland. This is a big weekend for a lot of organizations in the city, and we’re excited for them, too,” Johnson said. “First Baptist Church has put a lot of effort into adding something totally different, but much appreciated with their live nativity. The Pilot Club’s pancake breakfast and tour of homes events are always special. United Fund has a 5K going through Candyland Saturday morning. It’s a great weekend to be in Andalusia, and we welcome all of those who come here to celebrate the holiday with us.”