"We're very excited to announce that we will be presenting a drive-thru holiday light show at the Wilmington Riverfront from the Friday immediately after Thanksgiving, November the 27th, through January 3, New Year's weekend," said The Grand Executive Director Mark Fields. "It'll be five weekends, a variety of festive holiday lights that people can drive their car through. There will be over 40 different display items. We saw it as a way to continue to serve the community in a different way, since...we can't do performances inside our normal venues."
The Grand will be featuring a socially distanced riverfront Christmas season spectacular this year as the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to present challenges for traditional, indoor gatherings. The Grand teamed up with some local organizations to make the event happen, which will feature animated installations and interactive music.
"We're doing this in partnership with the Riverfront Development Corporation, the nonprofit organization that manages Wilmington's riverfront. Often, they have an ice skating rink that they feature during the winter months as a way to entertain families, but they made a decision last month that they weren't able to do that safely during the pandemic," Fields said. "So they saw this as a wonderful way for our two organizations to partner. And the technical support is being provided by an esteemed Wilmington company called Light Action, who're building the new soundstage facility on the 7th Street Peninsula called the Pine Box. So this is really three partners coming together for the benefit of the entire community."
There's a flat per-vehicle entry fee, so vans might make for a cheaper visit than a motorcycle, but the fee is nominal so Fields believes it will be a wonderful deal for all who attend, and since no one gets out of their vehicle, it's also a safe option for some holiday fun.
"It's perfectly safe. They'll stay in their car. We're encouraging people to buy tickets in advance online so that there's no contact even with the ticketing," he said. "It's $25 a car, so the entire family can come for that one price and drive through the exhibit and enjoy a little celebration and a little bit of light during the holidays. We're not doing concessions this year, again, to be safe. We're hoping, if I'm being candid, that this is really going to be successful, that it's something that people will be interested in seeing and that we can bring it back in future years and add some features that we're not able to do during the pandemic. But at least this time, people will be able to celebrate the holidays safely from their own cars."
And the target audience is everyone, Fields assured. Grown-ups will have as much fun as the younger crowd.
"We're hoping not just to entertain the children and young people, but we're planning some special surprises within the show to entertain adults, as well. Of course, everybody's a kid at the holidays right?"
Tickets are available now a TheGrandWilmington.org.