Early-morning winds damage Columbia exhibits

Experience Columbia exhibits damaged by high winds
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 11:26 PM CST
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COLUMBIA, Miss. (WDAM) - Spirits are still merry in Columbia as repair crews work to fix damage to a popular Christmas attraction caused by Tuesday night’s storm.

“We did have some damage,” Columbia Mayor Justin McKenzie said. “We’ve been kind of knocked down, but we’re not out. And we just want everybody in the Pine Belt to know that, ‘Hey, we’re open. We’re open for business.’”

Experience Columbia will remain open, even if in a limited capacity after sustaining damage to two of its most anticipated attractions.

“I got a call at one o’clock (Wednesday) morning from a guy that I had working down there and doing a lot of the programming and working on the light shows, (and he said) that we had lost the canopy,” said Jacob Harrison, Experience Columbia general manager. “We believe it was straight-line winds. Obviously, it’s a big kite behind us. So, it took a beating last night.

“Same with the tree out in Grove Street Park.”

The ‘tree” was a 14-story animatronic Christmas tree that Experience Columbia boasted as the tallest of its kind in the United States.

Harrison said it was nearly a three-year process to get the tree in town, and only about 200 people got a chance to see it up and in action.

While the tree may be lost, McKenzie said he was excited about the list of events scheduled for December in Columbia.

“From the tram ride, the Grinch Train, the ice rink, Frosty’s, Joe Rocco’s pizza. I mean, we’ve just got a lot of things going on,” he said.

Staff members are excited about the next month of visitors, Harrison said, and thankful for community help through an unexpected challenge.

“We’ve had an outpouring of support in the last 10 hours, and my message is if you want to help support us, just come out and hang out with us,” Harrison said.

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