Every year, when they light the official White House Christmas tree, the newspaper wire services are flooded with stories which reveal every imaginable detail about the event: How many light bulbs are on the tree, how much electricity the thing consumes per second, how many pine needles it sheds every 15 minutes.
The Rim country’s holiday revelers deserve the same attention to detail. To that end, we interrogated Marilyn Wolfe, chairperson of this year’s Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade event, and Main Street project manager Karen Greenspoon, about the minutia that will be invested in the Town of Payson’s Yuletide celebration.
Their answers may surprise you. They may shock you. And they may inspire you to race down to Main Street right this minute to make sure you get a good seat on the curb.
Q: We already know that the Electric Light Parade will start at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7; that hot chocolate, cider, cookies and other goodies will be available for purchase along the parade route; that Santa will arrive at the end of the parade; that the whole seasonal shebang will conclude with the lighting of the town’s official Christmas tree in Green Valley Park. So here’s your first question: How many light bulbs and we want an exact number will be on the tree?
Greenspoon: 2,376. You can go down and count them yourself.
Q: I have a feeling you just made that number up.
Greenspoon: I certainly did. Now, even though you didn’t ask, what we’re trying to do with our Christmas event this year is to create a sense of community. With the help of the town and private citizens, we collected money to plant a permanent Christmas tree near the museum at Green Valley Park an 18-foot Blue Spruce so we don’t have to cut down any trees ...
Q: Isn’t tree-cutting a big part of the Christmas experience?
A: Not in Payson. This is a permanent addition to Payson that can be used year after year, and that can be enjoyed all year long. We’re also going to be having about four or five church groups who’ll be caroling up and down Main Street prior to the parade. After the parade, they’ll culminate in Green Valley Park, where they’ll all sing together.
Q: Will they accept requests?
Greenspoon: Probably, yes ... We’re also going to have Christmas trees from all the schools lining Main Street this year; the students will be decorating individual trees to be judged. Everything that we do, we try to get donated so that it doesn’t cost the town any money. And that works out very well, because it’s all going to contribute to that sense of community I was talking about.
Another thing we really want to emphasize is that, before and after the parade, the Payson Choral Society is going to be doing their annual Christmas show at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. in the Payson High School auditorium ... We just really want to be sure that everyone comes down to Main Street, enjoys the parade, sees the tree lighting, then attends the choral society. It’s just a whole-family deal.
Q: Marilyn, the first thing our readers are desperate to know, we think, is how many light bulbs, precisely, will be illuminating the town’s second Main Street/APS Electric Light parade?
Marilyn: About a zillion.
Q: I don’t know. To me, the word “about” signifies an imprecise number. Did you count them personally?
Q: OK. So we’ll trust that number, then. How are all those lights powered?
Marilyn: By converters.
Q: So, if I’m in the parade, and my body is decorated with lights, I’ve also got to wear a converter?
Marilyn: I wasn’t really speaking about bodies. I was speaking about vehicles. If you want to decorate your individual body, there are lights that come with little battery packs, or you can use Glow-Sticks ... I should mention that we have three judges for the parade, our local community college provost Barbara Ganz, former mayor Ray Schum, and local student Adrianna Curtis. Randy Roberson is our alternate judge.
Q: How many electrically-lighted parade participants will roll down Main Street during the parade?
Marilyn: I wish you wouldn’t ask me that. We’re probably going to have about 60, but they’re not all officially signed up yet. The deadline was Nov. 22. And I wish people would call if they’d like to volunteer to help in any capacity. I still need Port-a-Potties donated, we need people to scoop and clean up after the animals at the end of the parade ...”
To learn more about the Electric Light Parade, or to volunteer, call Wolfe at (928) 474-6115.