Winterfest goes back to basics

Winterfest goes back to basics

Climbing aboard St. Nick’s Express at last year’s Winterfest at Diamond Hill Park are volunteers Katrina Violette, dressed as a reindeer, and Alissa Dacey and Brianna Scully, both elves. (Breeze photo by Charles Lawrence)
This holiday season, visit Diamond Hill Park for ‘An Amazing Elf Adventure’

CUMBERLAND – After making some changes for last year’s Winterfest at Diamond Hill Park, town officials say they’re taking residents’ advice and going back to what worked well in 2015, the event’s inaugural season.

Parks and Recreation Director Michael Crawley said officials “kind of went back to more stuff we did the first year” of Winterfest after not everything went according to plan in year two.

The biggest change is going back to spreading volunteers and inflatable holiday items throughout the park. Last year, everyone was bunched in one area, creating a sort of “free for all,” said Crawley. By having all volunteers in one area, there was a temptation for “too many of them to take a break at one time,” with up to 10 people out of costume at any given moment. There were times, he said, when only two or three volunteers were still in costume.

Clustering the attractions also backed up the crowd a bit, he said, and families this year will again be able to walk freely throughout the park.

Winterfest returns to Diamond Hill Park off Diamond Hill Road this Saturday, Nov. 25, from 5 to 9 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 26, from 5 to 8 p.m. An expanded schedule calls for additional openings on Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 28, 29, 30 and 31. Hours are always 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, 5 to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

The theme for Winterfest 2017 is “An Amazing Elf Adventure.” The mission for children and families visiting the park, said Crawley, is to help Santa find some of his lost elves and save Christmas.

The elf adventure begins at the Winterfest Wonderland Welcome Station. Each family will be given an official elf-tracking license to officially document their elf sightings and see how many elves they can find. At the end of the adventure, visit “Elftopia” to become an honorary elf and receive an elf name.

Remember, the elves are hiding everywhere. Look for them in the Enchanted Forest, Jingle Bell Express, Candy Cane Corner, Jolly Jamboree, Sugar Plum Village, the Mistletoe Magical Trees, and the Holly Hot Chocolate Hut. Lights and characters will be everywhere.

Mayor Bill Murray said this year’s Winterfest will be “quite a show.” There were great audiences last year, he said, “and it’s going to be better this year.”

The town’s train will again be in service, said Crawley, running near the front of the grounds. Visitors can take more than one ride on the train, all included in the $5 price of admission.

Officials charged separately for train rides in the holiday event’s first year, said Crawley, but it created a lot of confusion. Each year is a learning experience, he said.

Organizers are promising “photo opportunities around every corner” at Winterfest. Meet and greet lots of favorite Christmas characters. A concession stand will also be serving up snacks and beverages.