Locals and guests from around the country witness it every year. One day, nothing out of the ordinary. Then, seemingly overnight, The Grand America is illuminated by hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights.
This holiday tradition is one of our signature magic tricks.
Whenever magic is performed, there are typically two kinds of response. One is an immediate need to know how it happened, to know the secret—the method behind the magic. The other response is the opposite—a need to keep the magic alive.
If you would like to see what’s up our sleeves—to see how the magic of our holiday lights happens—keep reading. We promise it won’t take anything away from the beauty of the lights. In fact, we believe you will appreciate them even more.
A Recipe for Spectacular
The work begins early. Starting in August, through the temperamental days of September, and intensifying in the final stretches of October, our lighting crew is hard at work behind the scenes—with over 70,000 strands of lights to carefully weave through delicate topiaries across the property. This crew, comprised of both Grand America staff and a team of holiday light specialists, put in roughly 30 hours a week, every week to get the project done on schedule.
And, if 70,000 strands of lights isn’t enough of a heroic feat already, the lighting crew works through a number of logistics and complications. In order to reach the tops of the tallest trees, large lifts must be brought onto the property with the utmost care. While racing against the seasonal clock, the crew must also take on the largely unpredictable autumnal weather. Whatever Mother Nature sends their way—whether rain, sleet, or high winds—they work to get everything done in time.
Above all, the greatest challenge is a matter of coordination. As the lighting set up calendar collides with our tulip and daffodil planting calendar, the crew must be sure not to disturb the newly planted bulbs resting in the beds that surround the trees needing to be strung with lights. This does sometimes delay portions of the light display, as the flower planting has to be perfectly timed with a synchronized bloom schedule that brings its own magic to The Grand in the spring.
Trees and bushes are themselves an ongoing obstacle. While our groundskeepers’ precise trimming schedule may make our foliage appear forever groomed, they do actually grow over time, and tend to swallow-up the lights in their shagginess. But regular visits from the landscape barbers will keep them aglow all season long.
No Bad Views
When asked where he thinks the best place is to view the lights, Grounds Manager Dirk Van Wagoner recommends the Grand Salon, or the Courtyard, or the Lobby Lounge, or from the balcony of any hotel room. His point—there really is not a single bad place to stand in awe of this holiday magic. Unconvinced? Come and pick out your own favorite spot. You might find you’re partial to the way they light up our golden entrance. Perhaps you’ll fall in love with the way they twinkle across the patio, as seen from your table at Laurel. Take it from the man behind the lights, there really is no bad view.