Heritage Park to host interactive light show
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – Mayor Rick Sollars announced that Bluewater Technologies of Wixom will present a ticketed interactive holiday light show, around the lake in Heritage Park, beginning Nov. 19, during the holiday season.
Recreation Director Guido Ulin introduced Bluewater Executive Vice President Scott Schoeneberger and Senior Account Executive Ron Neph, who attended the meeting to answer city council members’ questions about the new entertainment proposal and how it will work in a pandemic environment.
“They are retooling for COVID, so they can still have viable options for families to attend and still maintain the social distancing and give them a great event to attend,” Ulin said.
Schoeneberger said that, like many businesses during COVID-19, they had to pivot and find new ways to keep its employees working and generate a revenue stream.
“At the same time, we are very sensitive to the neighborhoods and communities that we serve,” he said. “With everyone being cooped up, with many of us with young children, there is definitely a shortage of things to do.”
Schoeneberger said one of the brainstorms that Bluewater had early in the pandemic was to find a way to use the event enhancing equipment that it had sitting idle.
“We set out to put together a series of what we ended up calling ‘themed entertainment concepts,’” he said. “They are essentially interactive light shows, that we put on in various communities.”
The event has specific safety rules, Schoeneberger said, explaining that it is gated, with a fixed number of people per time slot, and people are kept on a trail to ensure social distancing.
“The first event we did, with Commerce Township, we were able to get 31,000 people through over the course of two months,” he said.
Schoeneberger said during Commerce Township’s two-month period, fewer people were accommodated due to a later sunset time in the late summer and earlier fall.
“We are looking at having 38,000 people come through (here),” he said. “Again – safely, gated, socially distanced, and we are looking forward to bringing something like that to the community here.”
Heritage Park is a great location to hold the event, Schoeneberger said, adding that they are looking forward to augmenting the traditional entertainment which Taylor already provides.
The show will run from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, for eight weeks, near the lake area. Other parts of the park, such as the walking trails, will not be impacted.
Taylor Special Events Coordinator Chelsea Nunnally said the city will run the ticket sales and provide characters, including St. Nick, with different themes each week, which creates the incentive for return visits.
She said Taylor receives 40 percent of the revenue, while Bluewater, which provides the technology and setup, receives a 60 percent share.
Schoeneberger said, in additional to traditional entertainment like carolers, the high-tech special effects are spectacular.
“You are going to have this visual show that they put on, with the lighting, the bubbles and the interactive portion, and the moving animated walls,” he said. “It’s pretty high tech and advanced.”
Nunnally said the city is in preliminary discussions with the Goodfellows with respect to a Santa photo area, and they also hope to engage other non-profit organizations to sell food and beverages. She said they hope to be able to funnel some of the concession proceeds to Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry, since it will not have their traditional Santa’s Magic Forest due to the pandemic.
“Our goal, obviously, is always to be whole, but if our portion of the revenue covers all of our costs, then, obviously, we can give back to our local community, which normally benefits from Winter Fest and all the fun things that we don’t get to do this year,” she said.
Schoeneberger indicated that Bluewater would contribute to the non-profits benefiting the event, as well.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])