Augusta West Kampground owners Brittany and Kale Malmsten seen Friday outside their home, which is also the Kampground’s store. They are planning to have the A-frame building and other parts of the grounds decorated with holiday lights this winter. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

WINTHROP — For nearly two decades, Augusta West Kampground owner Kale Malmsten has dreamed of hosting a massive Christmas lights show at the campground in the winter. This year, after a chance meeting with Kaleb Pushard of SkyBox Holiday & Event Lighting, he will get his wish.

“I came up with this idea in my junior year of high school,” said Malmsten. “I was sitting in class thinking about something to do in the wintertime on my family’s property, and that’s how it all started.

“It sat in the back of my mind until I met up with Kaleb,” he added. “He said we could make this work, so now we’re running with it.”

The two met in April after a mutual friend told Malmsten about Pushard’s Christmas lights. Since then, they’ve been hard at work planning the event.

“This usually takes a year, if not two, to plan,” said Pushard. “And we’re going to do it in six months or less. That’s the amount of crazy we’ve got going on here.”

Pushard said the display will be a little more than three-quarters of a mile long, and feature around 100 lighted trees, large display pieces, and special lighting effects throughout.

“We’ll have over 100,000 feet of lights going up on the trees alone,” said Pushard.

As of late July, the plan is to hold a soft launch on Nov. 27 and then run all the way through New Year’s Day.

“I don’t think we’ll push it much past New Year’s,” said Malmsten.

Pushard will be in charge of planning, designing and setting up the structure. He will also bring his own crew for maintenance of the light display.

Malmsten and his wife Brittany are in charge of operations at the campground, day-to-day business, and getting in touch with people such as food truck vendors who may want to participate.

“We’re going to try and have a couple of special events, hopefully on Sundays, with food trucks and things for people to do with their families,” said Brittany, adding that they may offer hot chocolate and s’mores, and set up a fire ring where people can gather during the evenings.

Augusta West Kampground owner Kale Malmsten talks about plans to have the field beyond the pool and other parts of the grounds decorated with holiday lights this winter. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Kale said he spent his entire life savings on the endeavor, but due to his contract, he explained he can’t disclose exactly how much it will cost. However, both he and Pushard said it was well into the six figures.

Kale said he was excited about the upcoming display, but also a little anxious about whether revenue from ticket sales and possibly other sources would be enough to offset the investment.

“I’m nervous, as we’ve never done it before,” he said. “So the learning curve is very stressful. Financially, it could be a disaster, but we’re super excited. We think it’s gonna be a big hit.

“We just want it to be big enough where everyone wants to come back next year,” Kale added. “We have five years of expansion already planned out, so hopefully we knock it out of the park this year and everyone wants to come back.”

The Malmstens plan to sell tickets online only. “That way we can keep track of how many people are coming and going,” Kale Malmsten said, adding that tickets will most likely be good for a time-limited period at the campground, in order to prevent congestion.

He said that he plans to have a couple of nights strictly reserved for walk-throughs, and two other nights dedicated to drive-throughs.

Both Kale and Brittany are welcoming any feedback or suggestions from the public about the event.

“People with food trucks are welcome to reach out to us,” said Brittany. “I’d like to get a list going of people that would be interested.”

The community response so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Pushard and the Malmstens have already garnered over 700 followers just days after creating a Facebook event page. Details about when tickets will go on sale, and at what price, will be divulged there in the coming months.

“Everything we’ve shared has had massive traction beyond anyone’s expectations,” said Pushard.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Kale Malmsten.


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