Camp Christmas, a light-filled Holiday extravaganza, started in Aurora in 2019. Pandemic constraints forced creator Lonnie Hanzon to go virtual in 2020. But this year’s production, currently under …
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You can buy tickets for Camp Christmas now by visiting denvercenter.org/.
Camp Christmas, a light-filled Holiday extravaganza, started in Aurora in 2019. Pandemic constraints forced creator Lonnie Hanzon to go virtual in 2020. But this year’s production, currently under construction
at Lakewood’s Heritage Belmar Park, promises to be the biggest yet.
Billed as a “fantastical wonderland of lights, dazzling decorations, music and memorabilia,” Camp Christmas will open for business Nov. 18 and run through Jan 2, 2022.
Hanzon, an artist and storyteller, has spent nearly four decades dazzling clients like the Houston Zoo, HGTV and the State of Colorado with unexpected visual creations. But he said the recent convergence of media forms has made the work all the more special.
“I’m happy as a clam because I’m finally in the spot where it’s storytelling — it’s truly magic work in that we use every language we can get ahold of and work really hard to try to weave good storytelling, good structure and art together,” he said.
In a walk-through pre-opening tour, Hanzon said instead of a coat check, the entrance to Camp Christmas will feature an emotional baggage check, helping visitors let go of stresses they arrive with.
“It’ll feature everything you need to let it all go,” he said.
From there you’ll head to Camp Director Lonnie’s cabin, where the semi-fictional camp director dreams up Camp Christmas magic. Campers will then make their way to Lonnie’s Vintage Cabin, featuring vintage Christmas decorations.
Hanzon said the event is designed with safety for multiple-generational families in mind.
“People that are comfortable going inside places can go into five different indoor places, but the show can also be a totally outdoors experience,” he said.
Hanzon says he stumbled onto the Lakewood location in January but getting contractual matters settled between his studio and partners, the Denver Center for Performing Arts (DCPA) and the city of Lakewood, took nearly half the year.
By June he was well into creative design for the project and his crew has been hard at work since then, trying to make the opening deadline.
“It’ll take every available minute to get it done,” he said.
There’s Beauty Camp and Gift-O-Rama (where you can buy gifts and have them wrapped). Across the way, you’ll find Sweetsville Studio where Hanzon himself will be creating a “durational” gingerbread display. He’ll be baking, assembling and doing sugar work on a miniature version of Camp Christmas. He says he picked up a love for working with sugar while creating elaborate window displays for Neiman Marcus in Texas.
If you’re chilly, you’ll be able to purchase gourmet hot cocoa from Sweetsville Diner before moving on towards Dollhouse Village, a series of 20 structures built at dollhouse scale.
There’s a Winter Wish Tree complete with digital screens for “wish playback,” while strolling under light posts adorned with vintage chenille decorations Hanzon has collected over the years.
Further down a path illuminated by thousands of lights, campers will find the Camp Lodge with electric sheep taking up residence out front. There’s a fairy bar and a pink room, and Santa himself will be present — but you won’t see him until you’ve passed by the lightbulb tree and LED chandelier.
There’s plenty more, but some things about Christmas should remain a mystery — except the icicle laser harp — no need keeping that under wraps.
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