Illumination Insider: All New! North Pole Experience

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See the making of a Holiday showcase like never seen before, created by local set/prop designer Ron Daugherty. 

“Ok, here it is.” Ron Daugherty stood in hazy darkness as the lights finally came on in his prop warehouse in Buffalo. His shrug and nonchalant attitude nowhere near matched the monstrous set that was coming into focus behind him.

Standing sixteen feet tall and nearly forty feet wide was a porch; no it was more like the front of a house. Situated beside it was a small gathering of intricately detailed and colorful buildings- a village nearly cowering in the shadow of a house- what could it all be?

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Anyone who knows Dougherty or his work would assume that this is another one of his internationally known haunted or Halloween displays. However, this was a stark break from his normal. What was sitting in that warehouse were pieces of what is going to be the biggest, best and most intricate Santa display in the area. Named the North Pole Experience, the display will cover nearly  10,000 square feet. 

In February, the sketch arrived at the Fairgrounds illustrating four distinct areas of what will become the new North Pole Experience. The sketch could not do justice to what was being assembled in the warehouse.

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The quaint village wasn’t small- it was elf sized. It will soon be decorated for Christmas and inhabited by animatronic elves and situated around a Christmas Tree to create Santaville.

Stacked against a wall were what looked like slabs of wood haphazardly organized with no regard to color, size or cut. Daugherty pointed at the pile and said “there’s the workshop.” Implying that that pile of wood was all ready to be moved to the Fairgrounds to become an inside look at Santa’s Workshop. The scene will be completed with elves hard at work.

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Now to the porch- the focal point of the North Pole Experience. The porch will be where guests can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus- right at their own home. Santa’s house will without a doubt be the most extravagant meeting place for the Big Guy in Western New York. When complete the porch will feature an ornate chair, Christmas decorations, and a sign to remind all who come just whose house it is.

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For the fourth and final portion of the North Pole Experience, guests will walk through “Penguinpalooza.” The artic themed space has yet to be constructed, but don’t worry- the rest of the items only took two months to complete. This area will have an artic feel with the Northern Lights shining above and flocks of decorative penguins lining the path out of the building.

Waiting in line for Santa will never be more fun than at the North Pole Experience- which can only be seen at the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights. This interactive and magical experience is included in your carload admission. The attention to detail in the display will make it the standout attraction of the tenth annual event, which opens its gates November 28th at 5:00pm and runs select dates through December 28th. For more information on the event, visit www.FairgroundsHoliday.com.

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Insider Bonus- Here is a photo of Santa’s Workshop before it was dissembled for transportation!

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