North Pole Village opens Friday
A fundraiser that allows a inside glimpse of Christmas and a chance to help others less fortunate opens Friday in Odessa.
“I called Santa and he always has reindeer that are in training just in case the reindeer everyone knows get sick,” said Dr. Ann Wills, an Odessa Veterinarian. “He graciously let me have two reindeer and they bring a lot of the magic of Christmas.”
The live reindeer are one of the many attractions Wills is bringing to the Ector County Coliseum starting Friday as part of the West Texas North Pole Village attraction. Wills and a group of Odessans formed a 501C3 non-profit, Reindeer Magic Charities, to put on the annual event.
“Christmas has always been very magical for me,” Wills said. “When I was a kid, it was a time for family, lights on the tree and decorating on Christmas Eve.”
The mission behind the North Pole Village is to bring that magic Wills found as a child to kids and families in Odessa who might not be able to afford the glitz and glamour of an expensive tree, lights or decoration.
“It would be nice if all children could have a bit of that magic,” Wills said. “There’s enough bad things that go on in the world that having something positive for all these kids is a blessing.”
The village promises to deliver that magic with everything from a custom-built Santa house, workshop, sleigh barn, North Pole post office, carnival games and hay rides to a brand new snow-covered sledding hill.
The attraction will be open to children 12 and under for free to make it accessible for all children. Admission for adults will be $20. The charity is seeking sponsors for everything from its community Christmas tree to each attraction.
“The sponsorships are a huge part of putting this on,” Wills said. “We want to try to have the cost of the village completely covered by corporate sponsors by the time the village opens, so the proceeds of the village can then go back into the community and other non-profits that support children’s needs at Christmas.”
Last year, Wills said proceeds from the event went to the Ector County Child Welfare Board and Christmas With a Cop, a partnership with local law enforcement which provides toys for needy children.
“When Dr. Wills came to speak to me and told me of her plans, my first thought was, heck there is no other event like this in our area,” said Sheriff Michael Griffis. “A place where kids can see live reindeer, Santa, Santa’s workshop, among other things and activities all in one place. There is not a thing in the world that is more pleasant than seeing a bunch of smiling, laughing happy kids.”
Organizers said Sheriff Griffis volunteered at the West Texas North Pole Village for many of its weekends last year.
“it is especially great that there is no charge for the kids,” Griffis said. “That proves that entire goal of this endeavor, or at least to me, is that this is all about making the kids happy.”
It’s a big commitment from an attraction that organizers say will cost over $100,000 for its November 30 to December 23rd run.
“This is a 501C3 non-profit,” Wills said. “We are not looking to make a big profit, everything we makes goes back into the community. We need the community support and it is a community event.”
Find out more details about sponsorship and the event at www.wtxnorthpolevillage.com.