McAllen to illuminate Oval Park for holiday season

Frio ticket sales announced

Children play in the artificial snow in the stands at the McAllen Holiday Parade at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Dec 1, 2018, in McAllen.

McALLEN — Following the governor-approved theme marking McAllen as the South Pole of Texas, city officials announced Monday that Oval Park at the McAllen Convention Center will be illuminated with holiday and character displays for “Santa’s dazzling new winter home.”

The officials also announced ticket sale prices for the Frio festivities, which is expected to feature 2 million pounds of “real” snow at the convention center from Nov. 27 through Jan. 6. The various ticket packages go on pre-sale this week.

“Forty days,” City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez said Monday at the announcement at McAllen’s Performing Arts Center. “We have lost our mind.”

Monday’s announcement comes as the city is continuing to build on the five previous holiday parades, which have grown in size each year, city officials said, eclipsing 250,000 attendees. Over the five years, more than 1.2 million people have attended the parade festivities, according to McAllen Assistant City Manager Joe Vera, who has overseen the parade.

As the city’s holiday season efforts have grown, so has the demand for help. The city on Monday also put out a call for volunteers to handle balloons and carry banners, opportunities available for anyone ages 16 or older.

The ambitious parade festivities such as Frio have often been paid through sponsors in recent years, city officials said, and an open records request found that no contract existed between the city and the company putting on Frio.

Rodriguez said the sponsors’ support makes the parade possible, and Robert and Janet Vackar, owners of the Bert Ogden Auto Group, are perhaps chief among them.

“As city manager, we’re not supposed to advertise for anyone, but my truck says Bert Ogden,” Rodriguez said, with the Vackars on hand. “I drive a Silverado, a really nice truck.”

Fifty trucks from the Bert Ogden group will help pull floats in the parade, a city official said: “It’s truly powered by Bert Ogden and Fiesta dealership.”