Woodland creatures to the rescue!
In a sweet commercial for the New York State Lottery, a woman working as a park ranger gets a Scratch-off game from her boss as a holiday gift.
As she drives her truck home through the wintry forest, wind blows the ticket out the window and onto the road.
Cue the inspirational background lyrics: “Everything will get better if we just work together.”
Scampering over rocks, across streams and through the woods, a rabbit, bird, turtle, deer and raccoon team up to paw-deliver it under her cabin door just in time for Christmas.
Holding her ticket, the ranger smiles at hoof and paw prints in the snow as the tagline “Believe in the magic of the season” appears on the screen.
If you think things look a bit familiar, you’re right; the commercial was filmed last fall at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River and Sal J. Prezioso Mountain Lakes Park in North Salem.
So even though the producers of “Special Delivery” used CGI magic to create the ranger’s furry friends, the scenery was all authentic.
“It was a very cute commercial filmed in a gorgeous area of Westchester,” said North Salem Supervisor Warren J. Lucas recently.
Location manager Peter Pyun scouted around Staten Island, Manhattan, and other places in the county before picking the perfect mountain-y spots sought by director Ben Smith.
The two parks “had such a range of topography—as soon as we saw the views, trails, and rock formations, we were sold. The locations perfectly fit our director’s vision,” Pyun said.
The Ward Pound Ridge Visitor Center served as the ranger’s home for the closing shot. It was tricked out with a new door and the rustic fence was, like the animals, computer generated.
Kimberly Bridge, a small span on one of its hiking trails, was also featured.
To capture the lottery ticket’s journey through the woods, film crews mounted a camera on an all-terrain vehicle at Mountain Lakes.
The spot was filmed over two frigid days in November by Mekka Media.
Westchester County Parks accommodated a crew of about 30 people, drone cameras, and a couple of newly constructed park props, including a new trailhead marker and wood fencing that now remain as permanent additions.
According to program manager Jeff Main, this is not the first time Hollywood, or the small screen, called. At least one movie, and a TV series, has been filmed there.
As always, the park folks work closely with filmmakers to ensure that sensitive flora and fauna are not disturbed, he said.
The park has a unique combination of natural environment with a collection of buildings constructed over a 250-year period.
A few 18th- an 19th-century buildings remain. The fields are related to the early farms, and the “unplanned landscape of the park is part of its antiquated charm,” according to the county’s website.
That charm includes meadows, vernal ponds, and woods filled with evergreens, oak, hickory and maple trees.
Its two waterways, Cross River and Stone Hill River, are home to 13 species of stocked and native fish.
The 1,082-acre Mountain Lakes Park is Westchester’s northernmost county park.
Its rugged landscape features native hardwood forest and miles of hiking trails.
Add to that five lakes and a spectacular overlook, and it’s not hard to see why someone would want to make a commercial there.
“We were happy to leave set pieces behind as a way to give something back for a great production experience,” Pyun said.
The parks’ staff were “hospitable, flexible, and open to whatever we needed,” he added.
And in a tip of the Smokey Bear hat to the county’s tourism and film office, Pyun praised the “easy and uncomplicated” permit process.
“I give Westchester a 10 out of 10!” he gushed.
After all, like the commercial said: “Everything will get better if we just work together.”
Watch the video
To see “Special Delivery” on YouTube, visit youtube.com/watch?v=J6LWAdUyBV0