‘Magic Forest’ open for season at Heritage Park


Photo courtesy Downriver Fish and Loaves
Volunteer organizers of Santa’s Magic Forest began their fifth season Saturday determined to keep improving the holiday attraction. The forest features more than 100 animatronic characters that once delighted shoppers at J.L. Hudson’s.

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — Holiday traditions take time to build, grow and evolve. The relatively new attraction of Santa’s Magic Forest at Heritage Park, 1212 Pardee Road, has all the elements needed to become a community staple, especially the approach taken by Chuck Vella, vice president of sponsoring organization Downriver Fish and Loaves.

Billed as “Downriver’s finest holiday display,” Vella said the hosts and volunteers hope to continue improving the attraction.

“Last year was good,” Vella said. “We’re looking for better.”

Entering its fifth year, Santa’s Magic Forest offers a variety of holiday displays, colorful lights, visits with Santa Claus and more than 100 animatronic figures that once served at J.L. Hudson’s.

The Forest opened for business Saturday following a parade that officially brought Santa and Mrs. Claus to town, escorted by Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand.

Santa’s Magic Forest will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays and from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 23. Admission is $3, $2 for seniors and children 10 and under.

Photos of Santa with children will be made available courtesy of Rosecrans Picture Perfect Photography and Flowers. Dec. 15 and 16 include “Reindeer Days” at the park’s petting farm, hosted by the city of Taylor.

Santa’s Magic Forest began as a joint venture between the nonprofit agency Downriver Fish and Loaves and the City of Taylor. The city’s Parks and Recreation Department obtained ownership of the J.L. Hudson holiday figures and scenery, and the co-sponsored event was launched as a fundraiser for the community outreach organization.

Last year the project was operated entirely by Fish and Loaves to support its community pantry. City Hall staff reductions prohibited municipal partnership from continuing, but Vella said the attraction continued growing thanks to the volunteers.

This year, Vella said, the Forest will deliver what people expect with a few added touches.

“We’ve trimmed up some of it, but basically it’s the same,” Vella said.

Santa’s Magic Forest is available for school tours by contacting the organization at 734-374-5014.

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