North Pole Nevada
By Monique Gaudin
“Welcome to North Pole Nevada right here at Opportunity Village,” greets, Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman, at the Friday November 23, 2012, tree lighting ceremony, of at Opportunity Village’s, twenty-first season, of the Magical Forest.
An event Linda Smith, associate executive director and chief development officer for Opportunity Village, helped spear-head in 1991 when they decorated the first campus on West Oakey for the holidays. A one night cocktail party, to honor the donors, turned into several nights of lights, cookies and a wishing well, which brought in $3,000.00 in donations. “She started with about 30,000 lights. And it just kinda grew into a big festivity like this,” says Las Vegas native, and six year veteran volunteer of the Magical Forest, Jenifer Jenkin. What she likes most about the event is, “That it serves so many people in the community with intellectual disabilities. And all the proceeds go back into the program that we serve here at Opportunity Village.”
Representing the 20,000 local employees of Caesars Entertainment, Rick Mazer, regional president, was on hand, along with Mayer Goodman, to flip the switch, lighting the 40-foot Christmas tree, donated by the corporation. “It used to sit outside in front of Caesars Palace. It was about 80 feet, a little too big for here. So we kind of cut it in half,” Mr. Mazer told the crowd.
After a slight delay, a spectacular array of lights soared through the tree, marking the official beginning of the 50 days of the Magical Forest, the largest annual fundraiser of Opportunity Village. One, that wouldn’t be possible, without 70-90 nightly volunteers, from the community.
Along with the volunteers assisting nightly, dozens of sponsors, from around the valley, donated the decorate trees, and holiday displays illuminating the paths through the forest.
In addition to the luminous walks, nightly entertainment, and photos with Santa, you can ride an antique carousel, play some miniature golf, and experience “Twas the Night Before Christmas” in 3D. Or grab a cup of hot chocolate, some fragrantly roasted nuts, and hop aboard the Forest Express passenger train, for a scenic ride throughout the venue. There is plenty to see and enjoy, for kids of all ages.
Opportunity Village was founded in 1954 by a small group of local families seeking to improve the lives of their children with intellectual disabilities. Since then, Opportunity Village has grown to become Nevada’s largest private, not-for-profit community rehabilitation program, serving more than 3,000 people annually through vocational training, community job placement, art & life skill enrichment, advocacy, and social recreation programs.
2012 Magical Forest Season
Open for Season: November 21 – January 6, 2013
Sunday – Thursday: 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Friday & Saturday: 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
General Admission (entry only – rides not included) $9.00 Child (children under 3 are free) $11.00 Adult (13 yrs and older)
Passport (includes entry and unlimited rides) $15.50 Child Passport (3 – 12 yrs old) $17.50 Adult Passport (13 yrs and older)
All proceeds benefit people with disabilities at Opportunity Village.