Extraco Event Center transforms into the ‘North Pole’ for the first time ever

Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 12:19 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The Extraco Events Center in Waco is transforming its coliseum into the ‘North Pole’ for the holidays, debuting its first North Pole Palooza.

The arena is known for its rodeos, especially during the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo. Some still remember it for the city’s hockey team--the Waco Wizards, who played back in the ‘90s.

Now, layers of ice coat the floor once again.

“The ice rink was a process,” Melinda Adams, the Extraco Events Center Senior Manager of Marketing and Sponsorships, said. “We had to build it based on the size that we could accommodate here and still have a crowd.”

The rink consists of real layers of ice that are chilled constantly. Adams said it took Ice America about three days to complete installation.

The snow playground is across from the rink, where there will be a snow machine, snowball fights and other games.

“We’ll have a candy store,” she said. “We’ll have teddy bear mobile here so you can make your own custom teddy bear for the holidays. We’ll have Santa’s workshop where the kids can go in and make gingerbread houses. It’s our hope that you bring out the whole family. There’s something for everyone.”

Adams said the idea for this event began when her and coworkers were at a conference in Vegas where there was an ice bar. She said they went to another conference in Galveston where they saw Moody Gardens’ Christmas experience in a tent.

“We thought, man, if they could do this in a tent, we could do this here,” she said. “The idea started flowing, and it kind of came together, and then we’ve been working on it since about March.”

As of Tuesday, they are on track to prepare everything in time for opening day.

“We’ve got a lot of different trucks coming in, bringing in different parts and different pieces and a lot of staff coming in, so it’s going to be a production,” she said.

Staff members are planning to install the giant Christmas tree coming from New York Tuesday afternoon.

The North Pole Palooza starts Friday, Nov. 24 from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Hours vary depending on the day.

It runs until Sunday, Dec. 17. The last weekend will feature special events, including a petting zoo and live Nativity scene. Some games and features are only available on the weekends.

Tickets can only be purchased online, according to Adams. There are different prices depending on admission and season passes.

Find more information here.