Lakeland Snowfest Lets It Snow, Lets It Snow, Lets It Snow
by James Coulter
Lakeland residents and guests were able to go walking in a Winter Wonderland—literally!—
during this year’s Snowfest.
All throughout Frances Langford Promenade at Lake Mirror in Downtown Lakeland, flurries of the white stuff came fluttering down, allowing guests to take a jolly holiday stroll.
Along the way, guests could listen to Christmas carols sung by live performers, watch the Christmas tree and other holiday decorations light up the night, take a peek inside the workshop of Santa’s elves, and even pay a visit to Jolly Old St. Nicholas himself and his wife from inside a scenic inflatable snow globe.
Normally, the annual Lakeland Snowfest allows children “to frolic and play the Eskimo way” in mountains of fake snow; however, that format was scrapped this year due to concerns about COVID-19.
The annual holiday event was set to be scrapped along with the Christmas parade; however, after much deliberation, the City of Lakeland decided to move forward with the event, albeit in a different format, explained Michael Marotz with Lakeland Parks and Recreation.
Originally, they planned to host the event downtown, with snow being pumped into the air along the sidewalks and at the park; however, the promenade was selected as a more ideal location due to it being much more spacious, Marotz said.
By hosting the event at the promenade, guests were provided with a wide enough walkway through which they could traverse the venue while maintaining proper physical distancing, he further elaborated.
“Part of the challenge was social distancing and getting people moving,” he said. “We had limited marketing on this because we did not want 10,000 people, but I am happy. Even if two people came, and I saw a kid smile, that is enough for me.”
While the city would love to bring back the old format with children playing in the snow, and while hopefully the COVID-19 crisis should have died down by then, they would also love to continue this year’s format as well.
Either way, this year’s event was a much-needed holiday reprieve, especially during a time when many other holiday events had been canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis, Martozsaid.
“We just wanted to give something back to the community,” he said. “There is not a lot going on during the holidays, whether there are two people here or a thousand or more people. But whoever comes through has a really good time and enjoys the holidays as best as we can give back to them.”
Assisting with the event this weekend was Global Special Effects, a special effects company. They provided the fake snow, created with “the most evaporative snow fluid on the market” that makes the fake snow look and feel like the real stuff, explained John Tiberius, one of the volunteers for the event.
Upon being contacted by the city, Global Special Effects, they arrived downtown and assessed the area. They then set up various snow blowers at various locations to disperse the snow up to 75 feet.
Overall, both the ideal weather and the ideal turnout made the event a success. Even if they were able to make one child happy that evening, they more than exceeded their expectations, Tiberius said.
“It is beautiful. We have a great night,” he said. “There are young kids who may not have seen snow in their lives until tonight. That is what this is all about. This is for the kids.”