Santa Claus is bringing the north pole to Hardin Park, with the help of the Mexico Parks and Recreation Department.

One attendant will have the honor of activating all 1,200 feet of Christmas lights at 5 p.m. Sunday to help turn Hardin Park into a winter wonderland, complete with sweet treats, two reindeer on loan from Santa’s sled team, and an appearance by Kris Kringle himself. The event will begin at 3 p.m. with holiday music and Christmas stories.

This is Park and Rec’s second annual Hardin Park light display, but the first to offer a community celebration and lighting ceremony, boasting twice the lights as last year’s display. Parks and Rec wanted to gauge community interest last year and received such a positive response that it wants to continually expand the display to become a key feature of Mexico’s holiday festivities, like Candy Cane Lane and the United Credit Union display, Recreation Supervisor Brooke Jameson said.

“Our ultimate goal is to continue to add more lights to Hardin Park until it becomes our own Magic Tree, if you will, our own spot where when the holidays are here, you make it a staple to come to Hardin Park to get your picture taken and check those lights out,” she said. “There are so many neat things that happen in Mexico around the holidays, so this is our part to be in that landscape.”

The department worked with Mike West of Westco Grounds Maintenance this year to build a unique display customized for Hardin Park.

“Rather than flipping through a catalogue to find the lights that we want, we’ve been working with him on exactly how we want each feature to work and our five-year plan for the landscape,” Jameson said. “It’s been a fun experience to be on the ground level on deciding how that park will look when it’s lit up.”

Jameson credited the Mexico Rotary Club and Mexico Park Foundation for allowing the event to be offered free to the public. The event also wouldn’t be possible without the support of Fairytale Events, Mexico Civic Club, The Village Square Association, Mexico Parent as Teachers, Simmons Stables, Dr. Wilburs, Audrain County Historical Society, Whitegoose Antiques, The Cookie Club, Martha Rose Gifts, Slumberland Furniture and the Mexico Park Board, Jameson said.

For more information, contact Parks and Rec at 573-581-2100.

afennewald@gatehousemedia.com