A NEW EVENT IS POISED TO CHANGE THE WAY STATEN ISLANDERS ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS
BY JENNIFER VIKSE
For too long, Staten Islanders have had to seek off Island experiences to get in the holiday spirit, but that’s about to change.
“Winter Wonderland SI,” an event developed by St. George resident Roger Marin, brings together old and young for a unique holiday/winter/shopping/recreation/entertainment experience along the North Shore.
“The concept began several years ago,” explained Marin. “I am a huge fan of immersive experiences, and have been thrilled to see the rise of experiential marketing. I grew up going to amusement parks and boardwalks on the Jersey Shore…historical towns and villages, and love to be transported into an experience. I also happen to be a big fan of the holiday season, and saw an opportunity in the New York market around the holidays, which seems like a crazy statement now [laughs]. You have wonderful experiences in the city like Bryant Park and Union Square holiday markets, Columbus Circle, and the Rockefeller Center ice rink, but what you don’t have, and what Winter Wonderland SI is creating, is a one stop location for rides, games, ice skating, shopping, food, and entertainment. I’m taking the best parts of many events and bringing them all together.”
The privately funded project will begin on November 25 and run through December 23 on select days and evenings in a 70,000 square foot space at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at the northeastern tip of the borough, transforming it into a winter alpine village. Attractions include ice skating, a 34 vendor holiday market, a nightly light show, “Santa’s Workshop,” a life sized working gingerbread house bakery, an igloo bar featuring holiday cocktails, nightly live entertainment, and rides, games, and other experiences.
“There are always risks to starting any new venture,” Marin said. “The best you can do is make sure those risks are calculated, and to have complete belief in what you are doing.” Excited by the projects happening along the St. George waterfront, he sees potential for growth. “There are a lot of amazing projects happening in this area and it is poised to become a world class destination, but it’s still early. I like to set up shop in areas that have huge upside potential, and the North Shore of Staten Island has that in spades. [The] Richmond County Bank Ballpark is the perfect convergence point; we have accessibility for Staten Island natives, those from Manhattan and Brooklyn, tourists, folks from New Jersey…you name it. We are right in the center of it all.”
Marin started his career as a DJ in 1999. He grew that into a full mobile DJ company in upstate New York. “After several years, I began working in film,” he recalled, “which led to some event related work planning social gatherings and movie premieres. I loved the blend of creative and logistical challenges that event planning presents, and so decided to pursue that route full time.” He now owns his own event firm.
“The scale, scope, and attention to detail that we have put into [Winter Wonderland] are beyond my wildest expectations,” he said. “We are excited and anxious to see our guests step foot inside the grounds and be instantly transported,” adding that the St. George Theatre, Staten Island Zoo, Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation, On Your Mark, and the JCC of Staten Island will collectively receive 10 percent of admission proceeds.
“It’s important to give back to the community,” said Marin. “My goal is to grow WWSI year over year so that more and more local groups can reap the benefits.”
Richmond County Bank Ballpark,
75 Richmond Terrace / winterwonderlandsi.com