Celebration in the Oaks returns to City Park in drive-thru fashion amid pandemic
NEW ORLEANS - A Crescent City holiday favorite is back for its 34th year. Celebration in the Oaks has returned to City Park, though organizers have turned the event into a drive-thru experience because of the ongoing pandemic.
City Park CEO Bob Becker says it was difficult to find a way to keep the tradition alive in 2020 due to COVID-related restrictions, but the experience will be just as magical.
Attendees will stay seated inside of their vehicles while winding down the 2.5 mile stretch of lights and exhibits.
"We had to find a way to let people enjoy the holiday season amid all the restrictions, and the driving tour just seemed to be the right way to go," Becker said in an interview with WWL.
Fan favorites from the original Celebration in the Oaks walking tour will be on display. The journey will even include exhibits from pre-Hurricane Katrina. Becker says it promises to be a pretty great spectacular.
Organizers say the event will bring joy to those in need of holiday spirit, in addition to helping the park after a tough year of financial struggles.
"Not only is this a wonderful event for the family and the holiday season, but it's a huge revenue maker for City Park. We have been extremely challenged this year as a result of the restrictions and having to lay off staff and not being able to have events and activities, so if you attend the event, not only do you get a great holiday event to attend but you're supporting the park," Becker said.
Over 90% of the park's revenue comes from activities hosted in the park. Although a few events were able to go on despite the coronavirus pandemic, Becker says the main, money-maker events were canceled.
The park was able to reopen some areas such as the tennis facility, botanical garden, and Storyland, but those profits are not enough to account for the park's expenses, even after furloughing 1/3 of the staff. Becker says many are depending on the success of Celebration in the Oaks.
A limited amount of tickets will be available for purchase each day online. Guests will choose a date and time for their visit prior to their arrival.
Tickets can be shown via smartphone or printed QR code upon arrival to enter the queue and begin the extravaganza.
The event opened on Thanksgiving Day and will run through January 3.
The price of entry is $18.99 per vehicle with a maximum of eight passengers per car, truck, or SUV.
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