CHICAGO (CBS) — COVID-19 might have canceled the party, but it won’t stop the celebration. The Morning Insiders found a spot where thousands are planning to gather for six weeks of socially distant holiday festivities.
CBS 2’s Lauren Victory introduces us to the northwest suburban crew spreading cheer safely.
In Grayslake, the alarm clock is ringing.
“Sleep is something that we’ll worry about once the holidays are over,” said Peter Starykowicz, founder of All Community Events.
With Halloween behind them, his team is dashing through the days to transform the Lake County Fairgrounds into a drive-thru winter wonderland.
“It takes about 2,000 man hours to get it all set up,” he said. “We have miles and miles and miles of cords, thousands and thousands of zip ties, and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of lights.”
Starykowicz explained his third annual Santa’s Rock n Lights Show is literally a gift this year.
Off-season, All Community Events manages running events, which means the bulk of 2020’s revenue never came in. Coronavirus canceled race after race, while also turning the other side of the business into a blessing.
“They’re looking for a way to show appreciation towards their employees,” Starykowicz said.
Presently, ticket sales are coming in stronger than ever from Chicagoland corporations seeking out a Christmas party alternative. Then there’s the religious clients, like Elsa Brinkman, church office administrator at the Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wauconda.
“We’re not able to sing in church right now. This would give us an opportunity to sing in our cars,” Brinkman said.
The show promises at least 20 minutes of carols, and dazzling lights for 1.3 miles.
Brinkman locked down 80 spots for the congregation.
“This is something we could all do together as a church family; and we could, you know, look down the way and say, ‘Hey! There’s the smiths!’ or ‘There’s the Jordans! Let’s wave to them,’” she said.
Test runs are already underway, with opening day on November 20.
Perhaps the biggest Christmas miracle here will be handling the crowds. The company expects their socially distant, contactless creation will draw 100,000, who will all stay inside their cars, spreading cheer, not COVID.
The event runs between Nov. 20 and Jan. 3.
Organizers ask that everyone book reservations online, and said tickets can be held up and scanned through car windows. Another COVID change: no passing out candy canes to little kids.