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Museum debuts outdoor interactive ‘Kohlights’

GLENVIEW – A holiday show designed specifically for children debuts Dec. 4 at Kohl Children’s Museum.

“Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular” allows young guests to explore properties of light and color by controlling and interacting with thousands of holiday lights in the museum’s 2-acre outdoor exhibit at Habitat Park.

The outdoor experience and holiday walk will be previewed Dec. 4 to 6 and then run on select days from Dec. 11 through Jan. 3. Reservations are required at www.kohlights.com. Tickets are $25 a person for adults and children. Kohl Children’s Museum members may buy tickets at a discounted rate of $20 a person. Infants younger than 12 months are free.

Effective Nov. 20, all indoor exhibits and VIP sessions are temporarily closed to the public because of state regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike other area light displays, Kohlights encourages children to take control by changing colors, patterns and motions of lights through several interactive stations along the way. While the walk has been created specifically for children younger than 9, family members also can let their inner child come out to play.

The Kohlights display was created specifically for Kohl Children’s Museum by Lightswitch Chicago and installed by ILC. Both companies produced the Illumination: Tree Lights display at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Hailey Featherstone was the lead concept designer.

Kohlights was created with social distancing in mind.

All stations have no-touch activation, with children either manipulating displays with their bodies through thermal sensors or using individual glow sticks provided at check-in to control the lights. Limited timed entry on the one-way path allows small groups or family units to proceed with a comfortable distance between themselves and other groups.

“Our members tell us they want and need some normalcy for their families,” said Mike Delfini, president and CEO of Kohl Children’s Museum. “Particularly during the holidays, interest in safe, outdoor events is high and we are confident that families will respond positively to this highly interactive and colorful presentation.”

Interactive elements along the trail include:

Pixel Play Meadow: Thermal sensors read body heat of passing guests and project it onto a sea of lights in the meadow in the park. Children will see their movements reflected in the changing light patterns.

Rainbow Arbor: Children can use glow sticks to turn a color wheel that will change lights on trees in the park’s courtyard.

Color Play: A grove of trees are bedecked with lights whose colors are controlled by stations along the path. Children can change the hues on the trees, which include low branches for easy viewing.

Rainbow Caterpillar: Another color wheel allows children to propel patterns of lights that wind up and down fixtures on the park’s Rolling Hill, mimicking a caterpillar’s movement.

Color Square Walk: A moving rainbow path of colors leads to the Lightacular’s exit, letting children choose a color and follow it to the end of the path.

Lighted Art Installation: Children can choose to deposit their glow sticks into one of hundreds of recyclable plastic bottles, forming a collaborative glowing artwork.

Staff will be posted along the trail to assist with social distancing and to regularly wipe down buttons and wheels even though children will be using the glow stick “learning wands.”

“The scale of Habitat Park makes for a manageable, contained and, most of all, safe experience,” Delfini said. “Our goal is to give families who are weary of remote learning and COVID fatigue an opportunity to explore and play as a family unit.”

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