winterfest

Pictured above is the entrance to the annual Winterfest of Lights in Ocean City, Maryland. The Forney City Council approved a resolution to allow the city manager to enter into a five-year agreement with Mosca Designs for a similar event at the Forney Community Park. The displays for the Winterfest of Lights event are designed and manufactured by Mosca Designs. Photo courtesy Ocean City.

FORNEY, Texas — The Forney City Council on Tuesday night approved a resolution to ink a five-year partnership agreement with Mosca Designs, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based commercial holiday decor and lighting company, for the design and construction of a proposed holiday light display at the Forney Community Park this upcoming Christmas season, dubbed the Forney Festival of Lights.

City Manager Tony Carson described the event as a regional attraction with hopes of drawing visitors from as far away as an hour or more.

A custom and tailored-to-Forney light and decoration display will be setup along the trail system at Forney Community Park. Visitors will purchase a ticket, possibly at $5 per person according to Tuesday night's discussion, and will be shuttled through the trail on two recently approved-for-purchase trams.

The event will also likely include local vendors, hot cocoa, photos with Santa, and other holiday-themed attractions scattered throughout the Forney Community Park and pavilions, according to Mayor Pro-Tem Shaun Myers.

The City of Forney had initially proposed an inter-local agreement with the City of Grand Prairie to partner with their third-party vendor, based out of California, to provide the light displays. Due to COVID-19 and economic concerns, the vendor chose to not take on additional obligations so, the City of Forney sought an agreement with their request for proposal (RFP) bid alternate, Mosca Designs.

Mosca Designs, according to Carson, actually manufactures the holiday and light displays used by Grand Prairie and their third-party vendor. Mosca Designs has also partnered with other cities throughout the country for light displays — including Ocean City, Maryland, which is in its 27th year of producing the Winterfest of Lights.

The Ocean City event drew approximately 102,000 visitors last year, according to Mayor Mary Penn who, with Myers, attended the event in December.

"We're really excited about this," Carson said. "They've been very, very successful in every city that they've put their displays."

According to the city council's agenda item summary, the agreement with Mosca Designs calls for a minimum $75,000 per year contribution and a 50-50 split on ticket sale revenues above the $75,000 minimum contribution.

The agreement also calls for 25% of sponsorship and 10% of general merchandise revenues to be paid to Mosca Designs, according to Carson. He says the sponsorship split essentially pays for the manufacturing of custom light displays for sponsors of the event.

The City of Forney will receive a $5,000 credit back on revenues because the displays will be stored locally instead of shipping out of state for storage.

When asked about the potential of the event canceling due to a possible resurgence of COVID-19 in the winter or extended social distancing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Carson says the first year of the event's minimum $75,000 contribution will likely be paid within 30 days of the signed agreement as Mosca Designs will need to begin manufacturing the light displays.

City Manager John Thatcher says, as with most agreements, there will be a force majeur clause in the event of future cancellations or postponements but the initial year's minimum $75,000 contribution will be a "sunk cost" due to Mosca Designs' need to begin manufacturing the inaugural year's light displays.

The agreement does, however, call for new and additional light displays each year to provide a fresh and unique experience for returning event visitors, according to the City of Forney.

Earlier this month, the city council approved the purchase of the two trams through the TXMAS cooperative for $127,132. The trams will primarily be used for the Festival of Lights event but, are planned to be used in other future proposed events.

The council had previously approved an event budget of $600,000 for the Festival of Lights. Carson says, with the partnership with Mosca Designs and the anticipated attendance, the city wouldn't spend those budgeted funds and, instead, would put money back in the general fund — calling the event a potential revenue generator for the city.

"In the past several months, the City has worked extremely hard to bring unique events to the City for residents to enjoy, such as Brews on Bois d’ Arc and the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop," read a press release from the City of Forney on Tuesday night. "This holiday light show is another such example and is expected to be a great experience for visitors and a promising economic opportunity for the City of Forney."

The resolution was passed unanimously by the council.