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Magical Forest reopens after days of heavy rains


Rich Coleman

A crowd waits in line to buy tickets for Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest Thursday night. The attraction reopened Thursday at 5:30 p.m. after being forced to close several days due to heavy rainfall.

Updated Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010 | 9:38 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

A crowd waits in line for the Northern Lights Fire Station at Opportunity Village's Magical Forest Thursday night. The attraction reopened Thursday at 5:30 p.m. after being forced to close several days due to heavy rainfall.

Magical Forest Rain

Opportunity Village's Magical Forest is photographed Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010.  After days of rain, the holiday attraction was forced to close. Launch slideshow »

After days of heavy rain, it was Christmas as usual Thursday night at Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest.

The Magical Forest opened at 5:30 p.m. as the nonprofit organization seeks to recoup some $200,000 lost as the result of this week’s heavy rainfall, which forced the attraction to close for four days.

Last year, the annual holiday fundraiser brought in $1.4 million for the group, which assists people with intellectual disabilities.

“Our phone has been ringing off the hook,” special events manager Amanda Pinney said earlier Thursday. “We think we’re going to get a great crowd.”

And a great crowd is what they got.

Families were lined up outside the entrance to buy tickets while some ordered tickets online through their smartphones to beat the line.

Since the rain stopped pouring, Pinney said, Opportunity Village employees have been working to restore the forest.

“It’s looking much better,” she said.

Linda Smith, associate executive director of Opportunity Village, said workers and volunteers worked to get rid of the excess water and to restore electrical circuits damaged by the heavy rainfall.

“It was kind of a full court press by all of us,” Smith said.

Those inside the Magical Forest didn’t seem to notice anything out of the ordinary. It had been 15 years since Shelley Hartley last visited the Magical Forest and was astounded by its growth.

“I was a little shocked,” Hartley said. “There’s so much more here. More lights, more activities. Back then it was just something we walked through and looked at the lights.”

Hartley was in town from Oregon to visit her brother Steven Haigh, who attends the Magical Forest every year.

“It draws people together. The lights, the atmosphere, the people. They’ve done a really nice job,” Haigh said.

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