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Bright lights, gooey treats enthrall crowds Park visitors get toasty roasting marshmallows

By JOEY HOLLEMAN

Staff Writer

Better be prepared. You could be as excited as your children are.
The latest sensation at Midlands holiday lights events is a throwback to the good ol’ days — marshmallow roasting.
Visitors to the Lights Before Christmas at the zoo or the Holiday Lights on the River at Irmo’s Saluda Shoals Park can’t get enough of the puffy white cylinders on a stick.
At Riverbanks, $1.50 gets you four marshmallows, and $3, a s’mores pack that includes graham crackers and a chocolate bar. For $1 at Saluda Shoals, you get three marshmallows on a stick plus a cup of hot chocolate.
You toast the marshmallows over flames from a gas fireplace-type system placed behind walls designed to keep kids safely away from the fire. The warmth of the flames on a cold night is a nice plus.
“This is very sweet. It kind of reminds you of being a child,” said Robin Politis of Myrtle Beach, at the end of a busy day at the zoo with her husband and 4-year-old triplets Anthony, Alexis and Maggie. “If it makes them quiet for a little while, I’m all for it.”
For some children, the joy of cooking over an open fire was a new experience.
“Just hold it over the top of (the flames), and it makes it gooey and warm,” explained Camille Wiley of Columbia to her son Brendan, 3. “You want it light brown. Just turn it and turn it.”
Brendan took his first bite straight off the stick, and his eyes opened wide like he’d just seen Santa Claus.
“This is neat-o,” he said. “I got my face gooey.”
Debbie Breland and Jesse Olavarria of Columbia went for the burnt-mallows-in-a-s’more approach, while 8-year-old Dylan Breland preferred to let the marshmallows melt until they fell off the stick.
“Wintertime is synonymous with s’mores,” Olavarria said. “This puts me in the mood.”
Reach Holleman at (803) 771-8366 or jholleman@thestate.com.