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Light up St. Pete: A peek inside Enchant Christmas

Bill DeYoung



Enchant Christmas will remain installed at Tropicana Field through Jan. 2. All photos by Bill DeYoung.

The thermostat inside Tropicana Field is set year-round at 72 degrees, but it feels more than a tad cooler in the Enchant Christmas light maze. Sure, the “wintry” temperature might be a byproduct of the 525-foot ice skating track, or the fact that natural sunlight isn’t allowed to penetrate the dome’s normally translucent ceiling.

Or maybe it’s the cumulative effect of all the Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and Andy Williams Christmas songs being piped in. It’s a cheery place. There’s no open fire at Enchant Christmas – but if there was, you can be there’d be chestnuts roasting on it.

It’s all about the atmosphere.

General Manager Nancy Hutson won’t say exactly how many individual lights are aglow inside Tropicana Field. “Millions and millions,” she laughs. “That’s what we’re going with.”

Enchant Christmas, which will remain at Tropicana Field through Jan. 2, is a family-friendly holiday “experience” consisting of a walk-though (or, in the case of little folk, run-through) path of lights in the form of trees, hedges, giant gift packages, ornaments and more.

It’s easy – and, in truth, kind of fun, to get “lost” in the light maze.

There are several play areas for children, too, and a holiday market on the outskirts, vending crafts, jewelry, gift ideas and the like. Along with food, drink and ample seating.

The “twilight” effect comes courtesy of a custom-fitted “blackout blanket,” covering 450,000 square feet. It took two weeks to install.

The Vancouver-based Enchant Christmas, which has similar attractions installed this year in Dallas, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., declines to release attendance figures. Still, Hutson explains, the 2021 St. Pete “experience” is on track to repeat, or better, the estimated figure for 2019’s Trop visit – 300,000 people.

Enchant Christmas, for obvious reasons, did not make an appearance in 2020.

This year’s hours have been extended – Enchant Christmas is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. “We love the earlier hours,” says Hutson. “It helps spread out the attendance throughout the day, for social distancing.”

Enchant Christmas website

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