Enter through the astral halls and wind your way past the celestial clearing in the search for a new, mysterious creature at Glenlore Trails in Commerce Township.
Different art, light and interactive installations span this half-mile wooded trail, but Bluewater Technologies, the creators of the sensory experience, didn’t stop there. They also added a storyline.
“Something strange is happening in the forest,” the website says. “A new type of creature — adorable, vibrant and often mischievous has been spotted! While mostly quiet during the day, they appear to come to life at night to unleash a fury of color and magic.”
The creators wanted to insert a little mystery into the exhibit, says Scott Schoeneberger, a managing partner at Bluewater.
“There’s a storyline that goes along with each of the installation pieces,” he says. “You can take in bits of story and the bits add up to a whole.”
Some highlights of the installation include hanging beams of light, mirrored surfaces that bounce color through the branches and glowing swirls around the trunks of trees along the path.
“You slowly work your way through the forest, and each area on the map is a different activation,” he says. “For example, the celestial clearing is a giant projection on the ground and as you enter a ring appears around you and you can form constellations on the ground with other people.”
How it started
Schoeneberger says the Wixom-based company was looking for ways to keep their staff engaged on projects now that much of what they do (like retail displays, museum work and branding) has been affected by the shutdowns.
“We went out and talked to different properties and people, and Multi Lakes Conservation Association is the first one that said ‘Yes,'” he says. “We partnered with them, and in July we started installing the first event in the series.”
The company also did a Halloween-themed trail and plans to switch out the wintertime Aurora installation on Jan. 10. It will be replaced with seasonally-appropriate displays and stories as the year progresses.
People who come to visit have been so impressed by the displays that they’ve made the drive out to Grand Rapids and Taylor to see Bluewater’s other displays, says Schoeneberger.
“We quickly realized that there was a strong desire for families to get out of the house and engage with safe entertainment,” he says. “We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback and we have quite a following now of people who come to different variations of the event.”
“It’s amazing how thankful people are,” he adds. “It certainly warms our hearts and we’re happy to be giving a community something to do that otherwise wouldn’t have it.”
Safety protocols and when to visit
A priority for the creators of the installation was keeping families safe during the coronavirus pandemic. All visitors are required to wear masks, socially distance and have their temperature checked before entering.
Frequently cleaned bathrooms are on site as well as a concession stand and “lots of light up flashy, glowy things for children,” Schoeneberger says.
The trail runs Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets for a timeslot must be purchased in advance, and a maximum of 100 guests are allowed for each ticket slot. Ticket prices are free for 3 years old and under, $10 for 4-12-year-olds and $20 for those 13 years and older.
Time slots start at 5 p.m. and run until 9 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, the last time slots are at 10 p.m.
“We tried to bottle the holiday spirit,” Schoeneberger says. “We want to continue to offer something for people to do to get out of the house and especially give them a break from the bummer that is 2020.”