39 North Pole Village Returned to Sparks December 9 – December 10, 2016
39 North Downtown community group presented the 2nd annual 39 North Pole Village on Friday, December 9 and Saturday December 10 at Victorian Square Plaza. I have had a lot of fun with this event because I helped start it last year, and I am helping it grow each year.
The event unofficially started in 2014 with a tiny event where parents brought their kids down to Victorian Square to write letters to Santa and put them in a large mailbox. Then in 2015, we decided to add a light festival and vendors to the event and call it 39 North Pole Village. Interest in the event skyrocketed! It has been very rewarding to see the event grow and I’m proud to be co-chair of the committee that is making this happen for the Sparks community.
The second-year of 39 North Pole Village was at least twice as large as the 2015 event. The winter wonderland featured thousands of sparkling lights, holiday shopping booths, great food and holiday cheer. There were free pictures with Santa and a special booth where children could write letters to Santa. The highlight of the event was Engine 39, the newest member of the “Rail City” fleet. Rides are always free, so this is a great option for families that are looking to entertain the little ones.
Another new addition this year was the Veterans Resource Center of America booth run by Shane Whitecloud and crew. This booth was fully stocked with Christmas cards so event attendees could sign a card and have it sent to military folks serving overseas. It was so popular that they ran out of cards and had to find more. It was a great addition to the second annual event and nice to see our community sending holiday wishes to our military serving far from home.
39 North Pole Village is a truly special holiday celebration. This year we added the Griswold Family Challenge. The event, inspired by Clark Griswold in the Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation movie, saw families and businesses compete for the best light display. This is a really fun competition because there is cash on the line. It costs $100 to enter the competition and $50 per entry fee goes into the prize pool. The winner this year was Salon 2000 and they won $350. I’m going to try to get a lot more businesses to compete next year, hopefully the prize money is more than $1,000 in 2017.
We also had a larger vendor tent in 2016. It was sold out to vendors renting space. The tent is heated so it is very popular at this winter event. The vendors said it was a great event for them and they all went home with quite a bit of extra money in their bank accounts just in time for the holidays. We hope next year to have so many vendors that we need two tents.
We were happy with how the event turned out this year, but there was one big issue. Mother Nature. On the second day of the event it rained all day and all night, which put some pressure on the power grid and caused some of the light displays to go dark. We are going to need to invest in more electrical supplies and protective boxes since this is an outdoor winter event.
We also had a bit of flooding in the vendor tent because it was raining so hard. Our volunteers and board members jumped into action and we were able to save the light displays and reroute the flood waters as best as possible. Having events during the winter is challenging to say the least!
We have big plans for this event. I personally hope that over the next 10 years it continues to grow and eventually it is so big that the displays stay up the whole month of December. It is a lot of work to setup the displays so it is a bummer when you take them down after two days. The event needs to grow so that the displays can be built and left open to the public for the whole month.
We had several new sponsors this year and I’m sure that will also continue to grow next year. With the community’s help, we will grow a new holiday tradition for future generations!
I can’t wait to see what we accomplish with the 2017 event!
For more information about 39 North Downtown click here.
If you would like to become a sponsor or volunteer for 39 North Pole Village, please email me at LisaJansenNV@gmail.com and I will send you more information.