New 'Winter Magic' light display hopes to help raise money for children's camp

Winter magic light display 1
Posted at 9:48 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 22:48:35-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Winter Magic drive-thru lights display is the newest way for people in Kansas City to get into the holiday spirit.

The new attraction is open seven days a week at Swope Park in Kansas City, Missouri, through Jan. 2.

It's a mile long, showcasing 10 themed areas. While the tunnel of lights is a must-see, there are plenty of highlights including zoo animals, singing reindeer and a black light candy land.

Winter Magic is the work of two local brothers, who wanted to get people in the holiday spirit during the pandemic.

Aaron O'Dell is the co-owner of Jolt Lightning. The last five years the company has made a name for itself in the holiday lights industry.

From creating dazzling displays at Worlds of Fun, to wowing crowds with winter wonderlands, you can find their work in parks and cities across the country and even internationally.

"We were manufacturing Christmas displays for retail, the travel industry, hotels, entertainment destinations and amusement parks," O'Dell said. "And then Covid hit and those industries kind of fell flat."

The same creativity that prompted these two brothers to build a successful business came through in the form of another inspired idea, creating "Winter Magic."

"So, my brother and I, we had been kind of tossing the idea around for a few years," O'Dell said.

The O'Dells said before the pandemic they would have probably been too busy to create the new light display.

Now, the brothers hope to make this an annual event.

"We hope enough families enjoyed it this year that they’re going to add it to their list of Christmas traditions and come back again next year," O'Dell said.

Tickets are $20 per standard vehicle and a little more for commercial vans or limos. People can purchase tickets on the Winter Magic website.

Staff say there's typically a wait in line, though it's less crowded during the week. On Monday's, Santa Clause makes an appearance.

The ticket proceeds are helping pay for local kids to at attend the Kansas City Missouri Parks and Recreation Department summer camp.

Typically, the department offers camps at seven different locations every summer.

Due to the pandemic, the department had cut back on capacity this year.

This year, instead of taking the kids on field trips the department sent the field trips to the campers.

"We brought in a guy who does science, Jody Siemer with the department said. "We brought in a mad scientist, we brought in ice cream trucks, we brought in Kona Ice."

While they're hoping to get back to normal this coming summer, one thing has remained the same.

Regardless of the pandemic, the department is determined to make sure these services are accessible to everyone.

"I think some of the biggest things are, for us at KC parks, the last thing we ever want is money to be a barrier to participate in any of our programming," Siemer said.

Families who need assistance can visit the department's website to apply.

People can also contact the department to make a direct donation or sponsor a camper.

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