Shop is dreaming of a chocolate Christmas
Hoffman’s ‘Winter Wonderland’ event has been tradition since 1989
Hoffman’s Chocolates has added factory tours and an ice skating rink to its biggest-ever holidaythemed “Winter Wonderland” debuting Saturday at its chocolate factory in Greenacres.
What started out 27 years ago as a modest display of Christmas decorations and model trains has evolved into a three-quarter-acre seasonal attraction with 50 holiday displays, live entertainment, cascading fountains, concessions and more.
Founder Paul Hoffman started the tradition in 1989 when he began setting up model train sets and Christmas lights inside the Bavarian village-style shop. Hoffman wanted to help fill the void for the community after the National Enquirer, then based in Lantana, pulled the plug on its annual Christmas tree and holiday display in 1988.
About 20,000 visitors visited Hoffman’s Chocolates each Christmas to see the trains, and of course, eat chocolates and purchase gift packages for friends and loved ones.
Although Hoffman retired in 2005 and donated his trains to South Florida Fairgrounds’ Yesteryear Village in 2014, the chocolate factory’s current owner, private equity group BBX Capital, has expanded on the Winter Wonderland concept.
Lois Marino, director of community engagement for Hoffman’s Chocolates, said the number of visitors to the Winter Wonderland has increased from 20,000 in 2014, BBX’s first year, to 63,000 in 2016.
Even more South Florida families are expected this year, MarinKo said.
“Guests tell me, ‘I used to come here when I was a child. Now I bring my kids here,’ ” Marino said.
The chocolate factory is at 5190 Lake Worth Road between Jog Road and South Military Trail.
Highlights and information about this year’s attraction:
Debut — Saturday. Attraction will be open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m., except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, through Dec. 30.
What is it? — Winter Wonderland features more than 125,000 LED lights — 50,000 more than last year — plus a 12-foot Christmas tree, Santa and Mrs. Claus, concessions, ice cream and gifts available for purchase.
Cost -- Admission to the Winter Wonderland displays, concessions, Santa and Mrs. Claus and chocolate store are free. Parking is also free on-site or at the adjacent L.C. Swain Middle School.
How do I get more information? — Go to hoffmans.com/ winterwonderland for details and daily updates on live performances and other happenings. Phone: 888-281-8800.
Ice skating rink — This year, the Florida Panthers are co-spon-
Founder Paul Hoffman started the tradition in 1989 when he set up model trains and Christmas lights inside the shop.