Four Payson Main Street projects have been selected as finalists in the 2002 Main Street Awards competition twice the number in last year's competition.
The Main Street/Arizona Public Service Electric Light Parade, Payson Auto Classics, Cuts & Stuf and the Ox Bow Saloon join 23 other nominees from 13 Arizona communities as finalists.
Winners in 11 categories will be announced at the Main Street Awards Dinner Oct. 2 at the Governor's Rural Development Conference in Yuma.
Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade
The Electric Light Parade was nominated in the "Best Special Event" category along with Nogales' Youth Mariachi Festival and Sedona's Centennial Postal & Pony Express Re-enactment.
"The parade exceeded any expectation and was an overwhelming success that brought out the community in force to participate," Karen Greenspoon, Main Street project manager, said.
"This is the epitome of what an award-winning special event should be as it brought the community together for the first time in many years and shed a very positive light on the Main Street program."
The inaugural parade began at the Beeline and ended at Green Valley Park, attracting 55 entries and reaching a mile in length.
At its conclusion, the estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people in attendance joined church choirs and other choral groups in singing Christmas carols and watched as the official town tree was lit.
Payson Auto Classics
Main Street's Payson Auto Classics joins T&T Blinds & Remodeling of Casa Grande and Payson's Cuts & Stuf in the "Best Facade Renovation" category.
The building that formerly housed Payson Auto Repair, sat vacant for several years. New owner J. D. Bell received a $10,000 Community Development Block Grant for facade, landscape and streetscape improvements.
Using a 1950s retro theme, the exterior features an original Kaiser Service sign illuminated with a thin cord of neon, new glass doors and stucco.
Interior features include antique automobiles, a '50s-era soda fountain and counter complete with malt machine, and antique gas pumps and other auto memorabilia for sale.
Cuts & Stuf
Payson's other entry in the "Best Facade Renovation" category is Cuts & Stuf beauty shop owned by Minette and Michael Richardson a business that has been operating on Main Street for a decade.
Like Bell, the Richardsons also received a $10,000 grant for facade, landscape and streetscape improvements.
With that money and some of their own, the Richardsons had the grounds graded and landscaped, added new sidewalks, lighting and handicap accessibility, and painted the entire building.
"Their business now is beautifully updated, but still maintains its circa 1910 character and integrity," Greenspoon said.
Ox Bow Saloon
The Ox Bow Saloon joins the Merle Norman Cosmetics & Day Spa in Casa Grande as finalists for "Best Economic Restructuring Story."
Recently declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the nation's official list of properties considered worthy of preservation, the storied landmark has also been designated the "most significant building in Payson" by the Main Street Research Team.
Originally built in 1932 and operated as the Payson Hotel, the facility was renamed the Ox Bow Inn when it was sold at the end of World War II. Since then, several attempts to operate the saloon have failed.
But early this year, the Ox Bow was purchased by Roy and Beverly Nethken and is in the process of undergoing a major renovation that will restore it to its former glory. The saloon has already reopened, and extensive work has begun to convert adjoining rooms into a dinner theater and meeting areas.
Work is also under way to convert the hotel rooms that opened onto an enclosed courtyard into galleries for local artists and craft and gift shops. The owners also hope to attract weddings and other local functions to the courtyard.
"This is an exciting transformation that will provide an important link between the present and our community's colorful past," Greenspoon said. "It is a critical component of what Main Street is all about."
In last year's competition, Payson's Green Valley Park was named Best Public Improvement Project. Payson's other finalist, the Mogollon Grille, lost out to the Yuma McDonald's building in the Best Interior Renovation category.