How do you decorate a Christmas Display Spectacular on 35 acres on a budget, you ask? Well, let me tell you a little story about Christmas magic and miracles. In three weeks’ time Holly Shores pulled off an incredible feat for the residents of Cape May County and beyond, and we did it on a budget.
With COVID-19 making everyone stir crazy and with all the kids restricted to home we wanted to put on a fund raiser that would be COVID-19 free-a drive thru the campground. The entry fee- just $10.00 per car, regardless of the number of passengers with the proceeds to benefit Cape Regional Hospital- a not for profit facility that helps everyone in our county.
We decided last year to put on a Christmas display even before the Pandemic hit. Right after Christmas our manager, Bill Salerno, went to all the big boxes on Christmas Eve and bought all the Christmas supplies he could find for up to 80% off. Maggy and I did the same thing in Jupiter, Florida. This gave us a great start; including inflatables, lights, trees, and other decorations.
My wife, Maggy, is a consummate internet browser. She spends countless evenings looking up all kinds of inexpensive and cute ways to decorate the campground. Some ideas included turning hay bales into reindeer, taking a mannequin and dressing “him” to look like Cousin Eddie from the movie, “Christmas Vacation.” We used old plywood from many projects to make Christmas cutouts. Lucky for us one of our co-workers is very talented and did a wonderful job cutting out scenes used throughout the park. Plastic hangers came in handy to create hundreds of homemade white snowflakes.
The entire Holly Shores team worked tirelessly for all three weeks to pull the display together. From marketing to bookkeeping to our outside staff, each member did their part to make the drive-thru a success.
Christine, Bill’s wife, sent out an email blast to our loyal campers asking for donations of Christmas decorations and the response was great! A neighbor from Lower Township came by and dropped off two large cartons of 6000 perfectly wrapped lights for us to keep. Amy from A-1 Self Storage donated boxes of lights as well. Other staff family members and friends donated gently used decorations and trees. Another neighbor and Holly Shores camper gave us a truck load of cut outs they no longer use and this was followed by yet another truck load from a regular customer at Holly Shores.
We needed Santa to be here as well. I told Steve Parker about the event. Steve does our weekly container pick up for the township. He told me he and his wife love to dress as Santa and Mrs. Claus….Badda Bing – we had Santa for the first weekend. The kids loved Santa and Mrs. Claus!
Then our co-worker, Ray Poole, with a great white beard and perfect belly volunteered too as Santa. If you want to be Santa for a night or weekend just give us a call!!
A few years ago, we purchased a used bucket truck. Our staff spent weeks wrapping the lights high in the trees to really give the campground a Christmas Village look.
Finally, with the help of the Chamber of Commerce, we were able to attract local businesses and non-profits willing to set up their own displays. Oh, yes, let me not forget our “sister” campground, Beachcomber who did an awesome job with a tugboat fully decorated to the max! Their display was the highlight of the Atlantic City Press coverage we received. All those pictures are on the internet at https://pressofatlanticcity.com/news.
One more very important thing, we are so grateful for the support of our sponsors. Local business partners who could not participate by decorating a site made a monetary donation to help the cause. We are very blessed for the community and business efforts on such short notice and look forward to increasing participation next year!!
At last count, Holly Shores has included 95,000+ lights, over 100 inflatables and countless other holiday trees and decorations!! Thank you to everyone who has supported this wonderful Christmas surprise. The families that have driven through said their expectations were exceeded and thanked us for lighting up their Holiday Spirits!
Our Generous Sponsors:
A Special Anonymous Santa Sponsor
Cape May County Herald
Joe Canals Discount Liquors
The Cork/Delmo Sports
Craig Family/Cape May Winery
A1 Easy Self Storage
Cape Camping & RV
Eddie’s Auto & Service Center
Tri-County Building Supply
Moyer’s Tree Service
Red Brick Ale House & Grille
Thank you for assistance and donations from:
Deb & Bill
Steve & Debbie Parker
Michael Siner & Danielle Cerbo
Chris & Dana Smith
Harry & Sandy Thomas
Madison Hansen & Family
HSCR Seasonal Campers