‘Enchant’ brings snow, 4 million lights across the land
- Enchant is the brainchild of Kevin Johnston who started stringing Christmas lights for neighbors. Now he runs nine shows in eight cities across the country.
- Enchant uses baseball parks for its winter venues.
- The first show, held in Vancouver, was so overwhelmingly popular that the City of Vancouver asked founder Kevin Johnston not to do it again, forcing him to find another venue.
Enchant opened for the first time at First Horizon Park on Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, delighting thousands of children of all ages.
It was a preview of the event, which officially opened on Friday, and Enchant invited some 3,000 people involved with 30 local charities to experience the maze of light, the huge illuminated reindeer, snowflakes life-size snow, living elves and the 100 foot glowing white Christmas tree.
The Nashville Sounds’ guitar-shaped dashboard flooded guests with softly falling digital snow as parents tried to keep up with children running in multiple directions through the glow and glare of lights.
While Enchant is new to Nashville, it’s an event that’s been growing since founder Kevin Johnston’s first holiday light show in 2016 in his hometown of Vancouver, BC.
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The success was such that the city of Vancouver asked him not to do it again.
“We ended up housing 10% of Vancouver’s population,” he told The Tennessean, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. “It was mind-blowing. The city called me into a board meeting after the race and said, ‘We can’t let you do it again because you caused too much traffic. We knew we had stumbled upon something that people liked.”
Johnston set out to find a better venue for his 2017 show. He couldn’t find one in Vancouver, so he started making cold calls. Then, he realized that baseball was out of season in December, so one of his calls was to the Texas Rangers organization in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers allowed him to put on a show in their parking lot. Although this one was also successful, it would create a ripple effect that would spread across the country.
“It was a big leap of faith,” Johnston said. “We had to get work visas and put together a whole new team. It ended up being the biggest show we’ve ever done. The show grew from 11 equipment containers to 50, and we hosted a quarter million people.”
This success led to calls from the Seattle Mariners. Then the Tampa Bay Rays and the Washington Nationals. Johnston’s light show extravaganza had found a new home – the stadiums of Major League Baseball. The show ended up moving inside the stadium, and it did two stadiums in 2018. Then three in 2019. There was going to be six cities in 2020, but the show was sidelined by COVID- 19. This year, Johnston’s Enchant is performing nine shows in eight cities (two in Las Vegas).
What is it exactly?
Enchant is a light show on steroids. Yes, there are four million lights, but there is also a maze of lights, shows, an ice skating rink, local craft and food vendors and, of course, Santa Claus.
Enchant’s chief marketing officer, LeeAnne Stables, said there were two main things that set “Enchant” apart from other holiday light show experiences: the scale of the event and the story to which the guests can participate.
“It’s literally the largest maze of Christmas lights in the world,” Stables said. “The scope of the whole event is why we’re in ballparks. It’s 10 acres. It’s a giant spread of elements. Every year the show is based on a story The one we’re bringing to Nashville is called ‘The Great Search’ so when you arrive you get a little passport and you search for Santa’s reindeer. When you find one, you get a stamp in your passport. At the end you have a chance to win a visit to the set of a Hallmark movie.”
It wouldn’t be a Nashville event without live music, and Enchant has three stages with heated seating and areas to help keep out the cold. There are activations by presenting sponsor, Hallmark Channel, including a wine bar in the middle of the maze.
“Nobody else is doing this within the reach of what we’re doing,” Stables said. “It’s Christmas on a silver platter for all ages.”
And it all stemmed from Johnston stringing up Christmas lights for his neighbors in Vancouver. Now, he said, the company is spending around $10 million to produce these shows.
“We employ world-class people from all over the world,” he said. “We’ve created an interactive and fun family experience. Our age range is very wide. We have great food and drink. It’s an upscale yet essential vacation experience.”
Melonee Hurt covers the growth and development of The Tennessean, part of the USA Today Network – Tennessee. Contact Melonee at email@example.com.