York's Journalists (left to right) juniors Graham Reid, Jake Hansmann, Holly Kauck, and senior Gracie Weinstein take on media day at Six Flags' Holiday in the Park event.

Michaela McKinley

An exposé on media day

December 20, 2018

As 2018 comes to a close and holiday festivities start to kick into high gear, Six Flags Great America is ahead of the holiday spirit game. This past November, York’s YTV and Advanced Journalism classes took a trip down to Lake County, Illinois to film a news package for Great America’s new event, Holiday in the Park. While attending the park’s “media day”, York’s journalists got to check out the new rides and speak to a few of the masterminds behind the event.

“We’ve been talking about Holiday in the Park [for a while], they started this down in Dallas and four years ago our sister park out in New Jersey said [they] wanted to try Holiday in the Park,” director of marketing, John Krajnak, said. “It was the first time one of our colder weather parks jumped in, so we’ve been talking about it ever since and thought this would be the year to do it.”

Because Holiday in the Park is a newer tradition for the Chicagoland area, Six Flags reached out to local news stations and journalists to come visit on their “media day” to cover the event and inform their audiences about the park’s festivities.

“[We] reach out to the entire market, Chicago, Milwaukee, Greenbay, Madison, Rockford, Peoria, and send notices out (press releases, wire releases) to [them],” Kranjak said. “For an event like this, [we’ll] send out specific invitations, but we invite everyone to come on out, we’re happy to talk to everyone.”

Of the many stations that attended Six Flags’ media day, Rockford’s own Q98.5 sent a few of their own journalists to check out what all of the bustle was about.

“The radio station contacted us to tell us about the media day and so we came out here, did some facebook lives, [took] lots of pictures, talked it up, and rode the new ride: peppermint swirl,”  Q98.5 radio host, John Wallace, said.

With so many big journalists and news industries in one place, it’s hard to not become motivated by their success and hard work in the industry.

“This was actually the best year of my career, I won the radio mercury award in New York City for best radio station produced commercial in the United States,” Wallace said. “If you can find something to do that you love and get paid for it, you’ve won, you’ve absolutely won.”

With such a big event coming up, everyone at Six Flags has been working around the clock to keep up with their own standards and with other parks’ Holiday in the Park events.

“[We] started in July, lining a lot of the buildings, and [have] been doing it ever since. As soon as fright fest ended it was all about Holiday in the Park. [We have] two million lights, so it took a little while to get strung up but the park looks spectacular,” Krajnak said.

With all of the serious news feuling conversations in our nation right now, Six Flags’ Holiday in the Park’s beautiful lights and holiday festivities have given customers an easy escape for getting in the holiday spirit.

“They put so much work into this and it’s beautiful out here. We just need some fun around this time of the year with so much horrible news,” Wallace said.

Along with combating today’s heavy topics, students are under pressure to keep up with grades and remain above the water that is finals.

“I loved Holiday in the Park,” junior, and YTV member, Jake Hannsman said. “This was the perfect event to get me in the holiday mood. It’s usually kind of hard to feel the happiness of the holiday season during high school because it can be a really overwhelming time with finals.”

To keep up the spirits, as well as keep the customers warm in the winter weather, the park has offered many festive activities.

“It’s going [well], [I] started the fire to keep you guys nice and toasty and to cook some s’mores,” employee Alex Ladin said.

While Six Flags keeps up their efforts to ensure there’s no shortage of holiday spirit in their parks, they’ve also been working hard behind the scenes to keep their regular seasoned park new and exciting.

“[In] 2019 we are getting a giant coaster: max force. It has the fastest launch in all of North America, the tallest double inversion in the world, and the fastest inversion in the world. It’s a triple record breaker and it’s incredible,” Communications Specialist Michaela McKinley said.

With media day over and Holiday in the Park open to the public, Six Flags is ready to dive head first into the Holiday season and celebrate with their customers.

“Holiday in the Park is really a celebration of the Holidays, we have two million lights, our rides are open, we’ve got s’more pits, it’s really just the whole holiday experience,” park president, Hank Salemi, said.

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