A holiday lights extravaganza will aim to dazzle Long Islanders at Whitney Pond Park in Manhasset this holiday season. The showrunners at LuminoCity just hope they can still pull it off to its full grandeur after what they called a “last-minute” change in venue caught them by surprise last week.
LuminoCity, an events production company, held the walk-through experience at Randall’s Island the past two years and received high praise from New York City media. This year, the company had agreed with the Town of North Hempstead to put on the lights festival at Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson. But according to LuminoCity’s founder, Xiaoyi Chen, and producer, Rajnee Persaud, a recent town board meeting with older residents who opposed the event derailed those plans. The event will now be held at Whitney Pond Park in Manhasset.
“We are upset about this, of course,” Chen said. “However we will try our best to bring the wonderful holiday experience for the family and kids, to light up the winter nights.”
Chen and Persaud had been in contact with town officials about all the logistics since January, they said. Then, they signed the official permit with the town in September, and the town had them present their plans to residents on Sept. 28. When they did, they said residents were hostile about potential parking, litter, and congestion issues from the event.
The next week, on Oct. 6, the town relocated both its Spooky Walk event, scheduled for Oct. 22-24, and LuminoCity’s event to Whitney Pond Park.
“Insurmountable logistical hurdles made the initial plan unattainable,” a town spokesperson responded to an email from the Press. “However, we are pleased to have found a suitable alternative location.”
Chen, who is also the show’s executive producer and art director, explained that LuminoCity’s immersive events take months to design and develop based on the specific location of the event. The LuminoCity team had been slated to install its lights show this month at Clark Botanic Gardens and run the show from Nov. 12-Jan. 9. Now it’s back to the drawing board to adapt the show for Whitney Pond Park, Chen said. According to the town, the dates will remain the same.
Nevertheless, LuminoCity remains determined to deliver an unforgettable experience that puts Long Islanders in the holiday spirit and brings them closer to friends and family.
“We’ve had people travel from abroad [to Randall’s Island] to have their family reunions at our events,” Persaud said. “We saw this as something unforgettable and magical. The holidays are a time to come together and experience that togetherness. Being able to create that event that people share with loved ones is one of our driving forces.”
Persaud noted that once LuminoCity established the annual event in New York City, their mission has been to branch out and spread the holiday dreams in new locations.
“We hope we can find a dependable venue for next year,” Chen said. “Our goal still is to become a signature tradition of Long Island.”