Holiday Season Hits High Gear This Weekend

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Double up on those vitamins, plan a long winter's nap Friday night. Then hit the ground running Saturday.

The 2003 holiday season in Payson goes into high gear Saturday, with some the major community Christmas events slated for this first weekend in December.

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The holiday season arrives in full force this weekend, with a variety of events planned around town to celebrate the season.

Up first -- The annual Tamales for Toys event, sponsored by the Northern Gila County Firefighters Association, is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6 at the Payson Masonic Lodge.

Enjoy homemade tamales and cowboy beans in exchange for a new, unwrapped toy. The toys and cash donations collected will be used in the Law Enforcement Christmas for Kids program.

Next -- With a hearty lunch of tamales and beans under your belt, make plans to attend the town of Payson's children's Christmas party with Santa at 3:30 p.m. at the historic Rock Building at Julia Randall Elementary School. After the party, the town's official Santa will leave the children's party and head over to Green Valley Park to do the honors, lighting the town Christmas tree at 6 p.m.

Once the tree is ablaze, welcoming in the season, the third annual Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade will head east on Main Street with Santa leading the way in a bright red convertible. It will end at Sawmill Crossing.

In the past, the parade has started at Sawmill Crossing and ended at Green Valley Park for the tree lighting ceremony. The decision to reverse the direction of the parade just made sense, according to Marilyn Wolfe, parade chairperson.

"It's so cold at the park, and people don't like to hang around for the tree lighting after the parade," she said.

Another change in this year's parade is that it will be much larger than last year.

"So far we have 36 entries, and one of them is the Rim Country Classic Auto Club which is going to bring 17 or 18 cars."

In addition to APS, which traditionally leads the parade, some of the larger entries include Energy West, Mazatzal Casino, Phil White Ford, Wal-Mart and Waste Management.

Secretary of State Jan Brewer will serve as grand marshal.

The town's official Santa Claus is the only one who will appear in the parade this year, according to Wolfe, who still has nightmares about seeing too many Santa Clauses.

"The easiest thing to put on a float is Santa, so we had way too many Santas last year," Wolfe said. "The children were asking questions."

Some 3,000 people watched the town's first Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade, which took top honors in the "Best Special Event" category in the Main Street Awards competition.

Wolfe's efforts as parade chairperson also recently earned her a nomination as Arizona Main Street Program Individual of the Year. Her nomination, in part, reads: "Marilyn Wolfe may be small of stature, but she is not small on energy, ideas, organization and follow through ... With the outstanding job she did in 2002 (when more than 3,000 people attended the event), there is no reason to believe that this year's event won't be even more spectacular ... Every Main Street program should be as lucky as we are."

So, make your list, check it twice and plan on a great day of community Christmas fun Saturday, Dec. 6.

In the coming weeks more holiday festivities are planned. Some of those to make note of include:

  • Tiny Tots Christmas Program -- There will be a Tiny Tots Christmas Program for ages 3 to 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10 and 17 (the first program was today, Dec. 3) at the Payson Public Library. The program features stories, songs, crafts and snacks for the children. Register your child at the library front desk or call (928) 474-9260. Space in the program is limited to 48 children.
  • "A Taste of Christmas Past" -- A holiday treat from the Payson Senior Center, "A Taste of Christmas Past" will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11 at The Ox Bow Inn. A buffet dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and diners will be entertained by the Payson Choral Society Chamber Singers, along with tales of bygone days. Tickets are $17.50 and are available through Dec. 5 at the Senior Center and Thrift Store on Main Street, from any board member, or by calling Patricia at (928) 474-2089. Accessible seating and serving is available. There will be a free shuttle service with lighted assistance from the Senior Center to the Ox Bow. Parking will be available at the center, the Ox Bow and those businesses closed on Thursday night. For more information, call (928) 474-4876.
  • Santa's Mailbox -- Dec. 12 is the deadline for getting your letter to Santa into Santa's Mailbox at the Payson Parks and Recreation Office, 1000 W. Country Club Drive. The letters will be sent directly to the North Pole, where Santa himself will reply with a personalized letter.
  • Choral Society Holiday Concert -- Performances of "Harmonies of Christmas" by the Payson Choral Society will be held at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 13 at the Payson High School auditorium. Under the direction of Mary Ann Irvine, with Sarah Nordstrom Nelson as accompanist, the choral society will present many familiar holiday songs, including Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" from "The Messiah." Tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for students (ages 12 to 18), with those under 12 admitted free of charge. Tickets may be used for either performance. Purchase tickets at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Payson Public Library, the Payson Roundup, or from choir members. There will also be tickets available at the door.

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