‘Tis the season to begin celebrating the Christmas holidays.
Be a part of the seventh annual Mountain Village Holiday Festival, which starts Friday evening with Christmas caroling in downtown and at the Grand Canyon Railway.
“We will be out caroling in the downtown area on Friday and Saturday, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.,” said Jodi Stegmeir, Main Street assistant manager. “We’re also going over to the depot to see the train come in and to see the Polar Express off.
“Carolers are needed desperately. We’re meeting at the visitors center at 5:15 p.m. both nights.”
New to Mountain Village Holidays this year, is the Grand Canyon Railway’s Polar Express, a special excursion train that will set out for Red Lake, which will be turned into the North Pole, three weekends in December.
The Polar Express is based on a book authored by Chris Van Allsburg that will be brought to life by the GCRY. The Express will depart Williams Depot 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7,8, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23. Because of the popularity of the trip, the GCRY has added extra trains. The second Polar Express will depart at 8 p.m. on Dec. 14,15,21 and 22. At the North Pole, the train will pick up Santa Claus and bring him to town. The first train will be back at the depot at 7:30 p.m. and the second will return at 9 p.m.
The trip is geared for children of all ages offering them hot cocoa, cookies, stories and Christmas carols. Children are encouraged to wear their PJs and can expect a special little treat from Santa on the return trip to Williams.
The Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce and Williams Main Street Association are sponsoring the parade of lights and lighting contests for Mountain Village Holiday.
“We want people to come out and enjoy all the festivities,” said Stegmeir. “There is still time to get parade applications in — we decided to extend it.”
The Parade of Lights begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, directly following the lighting of the city tree.
“At 7:45 p.m. Saturday at Monument Park is the annual tree lighting,” said Stegmeir. “The Renaissance in the Pines characters will be milling around town. They’ll all be in costume and they’ll be caroling with us.”
The Grand Marshals for the parade, which starts on Ninth Street and heads east on Route 66 to Pine Street, are the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors.
“We need every Chamber Ambassador in town to show up,” said Pimi Bennett, information specialist for the visitors center. “This is going to be one of the biggest light parades we’ve had. We have close to 30 entries.”
There is still a need for volunteers, said Diana Croteau, chamber administrative assistant.
“We definitely need help on Friday to decorate the skate park starting at 9 p.m.,” she said.
To get people in the holiday spirit, local youth are out decorating the town.
“Head Start and elementary school kids are out decorating trees in the community,” said Stegmeir.
On Tuesday, the visitors center was decorated and today (Dec. 5) Arizona Public Service, city hall, Inspired Originals, the library, the post office and the Bill Williams Senior Center will all be hit by small elves.
Other Saturday events
Williams skate park, formerly known as The Shed, will be home to a Christmas Craft Fair, which begins on Saturday and is open until 5 p.m.
“The craft sale is sold out — we have twice as many as last year,” Bennett said. “We have a good variety of vendors. There is something for everybody.”
Mountain Village Holiday events will encompass all of Saturday, and will include:
o 10 a.m.-5 p.m. — The Christmas Craft Fair in the Williams Skate Park. Also at 10 a.m., Diana Scott will read “The gingerbread Man” and make Christmas ornaments with the kids.
“The craft will be to make gingerbread man decorations out of felt, yarn and buttons,” said Patty Williams, parade chair and Lions Club member.
The Lions Club will have donation boxes at the craft sale.
“We’ll have a receptacle to collect used eyeglasses and hearing aids,” she said.
The eyeglasses are recycled and the hearing aids are refurbished and given to needy people in 88 countries around the world.
o Noon — Willie the Clown will make balloon animals and perform magic tricks.
o 1 p.m. — the Folkloric Dancers de Williams will perform.
o 2 p.m. — the Community United Methodist Church hand bell choir will hit the stage.
o 3 p.m. — Williams Viking Rockettes will perform.
o 4 p.m. — Debbie Noel-Wolfe will tell “The Story of the Pinetree.” Also starting at 4 p.m. (with a break for the parade) is an open house at Rustic Raspberry and The Flower Cart, 116 S. First St., from 4-9 p.m. The event will include cookies, cocoa, cider and chips and salsa for all that stop by.
o 5-7 p.m. (or until chili runs out). — A ChiliFest will be held. This fund-raiser will also take place in the skate park. Chili will be sold for $1 per bowl, with proceeds benefiting the Williams Lions Club Toys for Tots drive. Also starting at 5 p.m. is the piano playing of Harlan Mark Vale as he performs a free Christmas concert at Peak Confection, 221 W. Railroad Ave.
“I though it would be nice to do something for Christmas,” said Barbara Brunsing, owner of the confectionery. “It should be fun.”
Brunsing will also provide hot cider and small sections of fudge for spectators.
o Once again this year, the Williams Youth Recreation Center will be transformed into Santaland, and is a chance to nab photos with Santa. This year, two sessions are planned — 6-7:30 p.m. prior to the parade and 8:30-10 p.m. after the parade.
o 8 p.m. — Parade of Lights. Awards will be presented at the announcer’s stand located in the NAPA parking lot following the parade.
“We’re asking the emergency vehicles to observe silence during the parade to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 attack on America,” said Stegmeir.
Judging will be based on best lighting effects, originality, theme and creativity.
Awards categories include: Antique/Special Vehicle, Float, Equestrian Unit, Large Walking Group (five or more), Small Walking Group (one to five) and Emergency Vehicle. In addition, this year there will be two judges’ trophies for Best Commercial Business and Best of Theme Entry.
The residential and business lighting contests run through New Year’s Day with participants agreeing to keep their lights aglow from dusk to 9 p.m. Judges will start making the rounds to pick winning entries on Dec. 13.
Residential entrants with 500 or more lights will receive a $10 credit on the December electric bill, courtesy of the City of Williams and Arizona Public Service.
Award categories for residential lighting are of Best Lighting Effect, Best Spirit and Best Creativity.
The business entries fall into a variety of slots based on the number of lights — large hotels (5,000 or more), small hotels (3,000+), restaurants (3,000+), other businesses (1,000+), large retail outlets and service stations (1,000+) and small retail outlets (500+).
Award categories for the business lighting contest include hotels/motels/RV Parks; restaurants; retail (large) and other large businesses; and stores/shops and other small businesses.
For more information about any of these events, call the chamber at 635-1418.