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West Orange Times & Observer Friday, Sep. 23, 2022 1 min ago

Windermere denies holiday concert series

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The Town Council denied the five-day Light the World Community Christmas Concert. However, it made an exception if the organizer changes it to a two-day event.
by: Annabelle Sikes Staff Writer

After two meetings and much discussion, the Windermere Town Council denied unanimously a special event permit request submitted by the Acahand Foundation to present the Light the World Community Christmas Concert in the town.

Traffic, noise and light pollution were among the council’s primary concerns — as was the concert’s proposed five-day duration.

“As you know, we are a pretty small community, so we have to keep the residents in mind,” Council Member Bill Martini said. “We don’t want to overwhelm our residents with too much at one time.”

After all council members appeared to be in agreement of their concerns for the event, Martini made a motion to deny the request but offered the organizations a two-night event if they were open to it. 

“This does not benefit the town; it benefits the charity solely and the other charities that they contribute to,” he said. “But it is not a fit to our town or our residents or our staff or our police.” 

Despite the council’s offer for the town to host a two-day event, Camille McCashland, leader of the Acahand Foundation, said that was not a possibility.

“We really want to do this for six days,” she said. “We have so much interest.”

COMMUNITY CONCERT

According to Red Rocket Studios, an Orlando marketing and event company, in collaboration with Acahand, the Christmas concert is an opportunity for the community to come together to celebrate the holiday season while also giving back to those in need. 

The free public event would have featured four to five local schools, and community and church choirs performing each night, closing out with professional talent from the Central Florida area. 

The concert would have run from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, through Friday, Dec. 10, in the area outside Town Hall. Attendees would be encouraged to learn more about local charitable organizations and to donate to a charity of their choice through the “Giving Machines” set up as kiosks throughout the event. 

In the past, Acahand said 100% of the proceeds have benefited organizations such as Matthew’s Hope, One Heart for Women and Children, Orlando Day Child & Nursery, Poverty Solutions Group and the Salvation Army.   

The organizers said they expected the concert to draw about 300 to 400 people each night and require a crew of about 20 people.

Town Manager Robert Smith said after meeting with Red Rocket Studios and those involved with Light Orlando, he gained the understanding the event was much smaller and town friendly.

“The intent is to bring in those choirs from local schools, local churches and hopefully be able to instill the holiday spirit in people and also raise some money for some local charities,” Smith said. “When I first heard ‘concert series,’ the thought in my head was, ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be something that the town cannot handle.’ But again, with the amount of numbers they’re talking about … this is something that we would see at a low attended farmers market, not a food truck event.”

DYNAMIC DISCUSSION

Rick Barranco, executive producer for Red Rocket Studios, said the organization held the same event last year, running six days, at the Eye of Orlando in Icon Park. But because it is a community event, the organization wanted the concert to be located within a small community such as Windermere. 

“It was a great success, but as you guys know … Icon Park is very transient,” he said. “The reason for the event was really about raising people’s spirits during Christmas and doing something nice for the community. We felt like, man, Windermere is perfect, small town, beautiful, we all live in the area or around the area; it’s a great community to give back to.”

Smith said most of the concerns the town received prior to the meeting related to noise pollution, light pollution and generator noise. 

Barranco said the whisper generators used are quiet. In addition, the speakers could face either Main Street or Town Hall.

“No matter what … we’re not shooting sound over to Forest Street or really toward Fifth Avenue at all,” he said.

Resident Tom Stroup said the event would have been a welcome addition to the town.

“I don’t say that about every event, because I don’t feel like all events are equal,” he said. “But I think this is a worthy cause, and I appreciate the effort you guys have put into it.”

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Annabelle Sikes is a staff writer at the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. She graduated in May 2021 from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in sociology.  Her past...

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