Despite cool, rainy weather that forced the cancellation of Waco’s annual Christmas parade Saturday, a considerable number of people bundled up for the second day of Waco Wonderland, which opened at 3 p.m. because of the weather, five hours later than scheduled.
City of Waco promotions specialist Jonathan Cook said about 4:30 p.m. that an estimated 200 people had showed up at the Wonderland in Heritage Square. The first to arrive headed straight for the new Snow Tube Hill, where children and adults got in rubber rafts to zip down a slide of artificial ice, white as snow. The ride replaced the ice skating rink of previous years.
Dede Melant, of Valley Mills, about to get on the ride with her children and friends after a ride around the lot on a trackless train, said, “All this will really ruin my hair, but it’s worth it.”
Cook said about 5 p.m. Saturday that proceeds were only about $10,000 short of the $100,000 budget, with five hours still to go in Saturday’s festivities and with operations still planned for noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
“We’re on track to make it,” he said.
He said about 5,000 attended the opening evening Friday, which included the annual City Hall tree-lighting ceremony and fireworks display.
The parade was canceled primarily for concerns about safety, he said.
Saturday’s Wonderland was scheduled to start at 10 a.m., concurrent with the parade, but Cook said the opening was delayed “to give people time to get here” because the crowds the parade would have drawn were still at home. Also, the mechanical equipment needed some extra maintenance because of the cold, wet weather. However, a few people still showed up at 10 a.m., expecting the parade to take place.
A Wonderland Run at 8 a.m. to benefit Communities in Schools continued as planned, but with only about 75 of the 300 who had registered.
Among food trucks, Pokey O’s might have been at a disadvantage with its menu of ice cream and other summery treats, but attendants Wayne Touchstone and Jake Anthony already had made three sales within a half-hour of opening, and a steady stream of customers came through their line thereafter.
“Our cookies are warm. That’s the only item that isn’t cold,” Touchstone said.
The Ferris wheel also drew a steady crowd, although its line was short for the first hour.
Katie Barera, one of three young women who had just finished a ride, said, “It’s cold up there. We had rain dripping off our noses.”
Ashley Royal, owner and director of the 8-month-old Footprinz Dance Studio for children, said 21 of her 35 students showed up for choreographed Christmas-themed performances on the stage. They had been scheduled to appear at 10 a.m., opening for a series of performances that continues Sunday.
Sunday’s weather forecast is similar to Saturday’s, except that chances of rain are 60 percent instead of Saturday’s 100 percent. The predicted high temperature is 51. The wet, chilly weather is expected to continue until skies begin clearing Monday, with slightly warmer weather under mostly sunny skies Tuesday.