Downtown Waco transforms into scene from snow globe

In this December 2013 Lariat File Photo, a little girl pets a camel in the petting zoo at the Waco Wonderland event.

By KJ Burkley | Reporter

The annual Waco Wonderland returns to Heritage Square on 300 Austin Ave. in downtown Waco this weekend with its collection of sights, eats and treats.

The gates are open tonight at 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. The event will feature local favorite food trucks, carriage rides and a Mistletoe Market with a food court and merchant booths. The Tree Lighting Ceremony and fireworks show will start at 6:45 p.m. .

On Saturday, the annual Wonderland 5K and 10K run will start at 8 a.m., followed by the parade at 10 a.m. Available later that day is the Snow Tube Hill, where tubers can tube down a slide made of ice.

Train rides, the wonder wheel, downtown horse-drawn carriage rides and a petting zoo are all included with a purchase of a $5 wristband. Admission as well as other activities offered are free.

This year’s parade is sponsored by the Waco Family of Faith Worship Center.

Birmingham Junior Marissa Cook, who loves the cheery atmosphere of the holidays, is looking forward to the festive holiday parade.

“I like when people bring their families and pets to watch and be in the parade,” Cook said. “So I know that the Wonderland parade will be great. It’s really cool to see local people gather together with their families to share this time. I’m also excited to go because my family is coming in town this weekend.”

Along with its many attractions, Waco Wonderland creates a stage for many musical groups to preform. Each day will feature choirs, bands and dance groups from high schools, churches and performance companies.

Waco Wonderland’s outreach to the community resulted with many partnerships, including H-E-B, the Brazos River Partners LLC, the City of Waco and Baylor University.

Despite its seventh year and its partnership with Baylor, Waco Wonderland is still a surprise to most Baylor students.

San Antonio junior Delaney Sills said she has high expectations who loved that liveliness from the festival correlates with the holiday seasons of December.

“I heard from a friend about Waco Wonderland, and after looking at all of the events online, I decided to go,” Sills said. “This is my first time, so my expectations about everything are high. I’m really looking forward to the fireworks show and Christmas tree lighting. Fireworks remind me of home, so I’m glad that will be on display, especially during this time of the year.”

Waco Wonderland kicks off the December celebration of the holiday season.