Maggy and I have now operated Holly Shores Camping Resort for 21 years! I was 50 when we made the purchase in 1999 and I am now 71+!! I thought that at some point I could start to relax and enjoy the “golden years”! Being married to a bright over-achiever has many benefits but early (or late) retirement is just not in the cards.
Every Thanksgiving we have a family gathering in some out of Cape May location. One year we went to the Catskills, another to Baltimore, and last year it was Mullica Hill. It is just two nights of family and fun with our adult children and many grandchildren.
Included in the weekend festivities was a Christmas experience at Creamy Acres; a large farm that offers an incredible family evening to celebrate the Christmas Season. We waited in line for a while and “Baby, it was cold outside!” We moved slowly to head of the line and were directed onto wagons towed by huge farm tractors. The wagon ride was fun, and the farm was packed with all kinds of Christmas decorations.
When we finally got into our warm car, I thought that was the end to a great evening. Little did I know that Maggy’s masterful mind was spinning out of control. Every evening Maggy is on the computer looking up all kinds of ideas; always looking for activity ideas and anything to make camping at Holly Shores the most memorable and fun experience for everyone – hence began her plan for the Christmas Festival of Lights at Holly Shores.
Maggy knew that the brand new state of the art Claire Brodesser Ambulatory Surgery Center was short on donations and with her giving heart, met with our general managers, Bill and Christine and the rest of the staff to share her bright idea: were we all up to the challenge of hosting a Festival of Lights as a fundraiser for the center?? The staff met her excitement with resounding agreement to support our local medical center.
It has been our general manager’s, Bill Salerno, Christmas wish for years to have an opportunity to host an event like this. He is our designer and layout coordinator. Christine, his wife, is managing the marketing and sponsorships for the dream to come true: local families can create a new annual tradition and enjoy the Festival of Lights for years to come. The entire staff is working tirelessly like Santa’s elves to light up, decorate and create a memorable experience for everyone.
Maggy’s idea originally was to mimic the walk about and wagon riding evening of fun like Creamy Acres. Nothing like this has ever been done in Cape May County. We sent Bill to inventory our Christmas displays that we utilize during Christmas In July at Holly Shores and then directed him to go on a buying spree at the end of December when the stores were heavily discounting their leftover stock from Christmas. Maggy and I did the same thing in Florida and loaded all the lights we could in the motorhome to bring north in the Spring.
Our original plans were put to an abrupt halt when Covid-19 was announced. As the virus continued to spread, we had to reconsider, not only our entire summer of camping, but our Christmas Festival of Lights. After much thoughtful consideration over the last few months, we decided to go ahead with a COVID-19 safe drive thru that would minimize any direct contact with the families coming through.
We needed help in promoting the idea and getting local businesses to join us in our endeavor. I reached out to the Chamber of Commerce of Cape May County. After our face to face meeting and their Board’s approval they jumped in and are helping to spread the word.
For the last two weeks we have been building displays, installing lights, trees, wreaths and countless holiday inflatables all around the park. If the community businesses lend their support, we can make this an outstanding annual event; but especially this year when our area has little to do for holiday fun.
As for my retirement…what retirement? Maybe next year…nah!