The coronavirus has caused closures and cancellations across the country since the start of the pandemic, but in Madison County, one event has seemingly managed to find a balance and help give the community the Christmas celebration they’ve been searching for in a safe environment.
The Rocket City Christmas Spectacular wasn’t something the Trash Pandas had planned before the cancellation of the Minor League Baseball season, but for nearly a month, the event has given people a place to celebrate and brighten their day.
“I think everyone around here is just thriving for something fun and holiday and Christmas,” Lindsey Knupp, the team’s vice president of marketing, promotions and entertainment, said.
Starting in mid-November, families around North Alabama have been heading out to Toyota Field for the drive-thru holiday experience. The Christmas lights spectacular keeps people in their cars as they drive through a 20-minute light show with music that’s synchronized with a radio broadcast.
“It’s all been safe, it’s contactless,” Knupp said. “You can download your ticket right onto your phone, scan it and you don’t even have to exchange any money. And you can stay in your car if you choose to.”
Once finished with the light show, people are also welcome to come into the stadium for the indoor winter wonderland, where there are photo opportunities with classic characters -- like Santa -- as well as food and drinks.
Even during celebrations, safety is a top priority. Along with masking and sanitation stations, Knupp said she believes the ballpark environment is to thank for the event’s success.
“I think having the open-air facility, having the large parking lot that is outdoors, the ability to come and you’re inside the ballpark, but really, you’re outside,” she said. “You’re outside in the open air, we have plenty of space inside Toyota Field to social distance.”
In these unprecedented times, families feel the event is a great way to get some holiday spirit without putting themselves at risk.
“It’s nice to be able to get out and feel comfortable getting out but to still be able to have a good time doing something with my family, especially since my daughter’s only two,” Kara Lewis, an event attendee, said. “It’s nice to get out and do something different.”
The indoor winter wonderland portion of the event runs until Christmas Eve, while the light show continues until Jan. 3.