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Parks Alliance of Louisville and Our History with Winter Woods Spectacular

Turning the page on this incredible winter event

In our last blog linked HERE, you can read about the history of the Alliance and Jack O’Lantern Spectacular, Louisville’s largest fundraiser for our public parks. This blog introduces you to Winter Woods Spectacular, the younger sister event.

Let’s catch you up on some of the back story. Passion for Pumpkins is the company that produces Jack O’Lantern Spectacular. When the company contracted to put on the show in Louisville, they sent two of their partners to town to produce the event here. Those guys, Paul and Travis, fell in love with Louisville (well, to be more accurate, Louisville women) and moved here in 2014. While they dreamed of a winter event for years, Jack O’Lantern grew to include a third city, Minneapolis, and their families grew…. exponentially over the next few years. We’re talking five kids in 3 years.

However, in 2019, the Alliance was ready to add an event, and the guys were ready to finally turn their creative talent into a winter wonderland. They started their own Hey Bob Productions company and went to work.

I can’t think of a better phrase to describe the first two seasons of Winter Woods Spectacular other than “fortune favors the brave”. Originally conceived as a drive-thru event, the team went to work building Swiss chalets, ice castles, and more than one hundred 8’ tall “stained glass” windows to represent scenes from Christmas to the Winter Solstice to Hannukah and Kwanza, all with the up-lit woods of Iroquois Park as the backdrop. While the attendance the first year was slow, everyone who did come raved about the event and that experience set us up for what was to come just a few months later, in March 2020.

The ingenuity required to pull off that first year of Winter Woods, the work done to provide power, lights, independent ticketing, traffic patterns, etc. allowed our events to survive in 2020. Because we had the template of Winter Woods, we knew it was possible to hold a drive-thru event and were able to pivot Jack O’Lantern to a drive-thru. Had we not done all that work in 2019 for Winter Woods, we simply would have had to cancel Jack O’Lantern during the pandemic.

That said, after returning Jack O’Lantern Spectacular to the trail in 2021 and listening to our fans' feedback, we realized the whole Winter Woods event would be better served as a walk-thru. The holiday season's sights, sounds, and smells are better experienced when you’re out of your car and in the woods. Therefore, in 2022, Winter Woods will open on the same path through the woods that is the home of Jack O’Lantern Spectacular.

So, we’ve come full circle. We are grateful for the journey over the last three years and look forward to a new chapter of this incredible event that also supports our public parks. Trust us; you don’t want to miss it!


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