The Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade will be twice as long this year as it was last year.
Carol McCauley, Main Street Program project manager and coordinator of this year's parade, said there are 55 participants this year, more than double the entries from the 2003 parade.
"Almost all the entries are from around the area," she said. "And there are going to be some very clever entries that people will get a kick out of."
Judge Ronnie McDaniel has been chosen as the grand marshal of this year's parade.
"We wanted to recognize him for the contribution he has made to the community," McCauley said. McDaniel is retiring from 40 years of service with Gila County, first with the sheriff's office, then as Payson's justice of the peace.
The annual Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade will feature several changes this year, McCauley said.
The decision was made to return to the east to west route, starting at the east end of west Main Street and running toward Green Valley Park.
"We will not be interfering with any of the businesses," McCauley said.
The announcer stands will be at Main Street Paint, Pollack Custom Works, and at the house across Main Street from Julia Randall Elementary School, she said. The announcers will be Randy Roberson, Fred Carpenter, Eddie Armer and Dan Haapala.
Carolers will close the parade and lead residents to Green Valley Park for the town Christmas tree lighting ceremony and a community sing-a-long, which will be followed by fireworks.
"We're having the fireworks because we couldn't have them for the Fourth of July and it makes a nice finale for the evening," she said.
Another new addition to the Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade and town holiday festivities is a arts and crafts fair at Green Valley Park in the parking lot between the Main Street Program office and the Rim Country Museum. McCauley said the fair will open at 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5.
"I didn't set a closing time for Saturday in case the vendors wanted to stay open for the people coming out for the parade and lighting ceremony," McCauley said. It will close at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The arts and crafts fair will feature both crafts and food booths. Among the crafts available will be ceramic pottery, Christmas decor items, stained glass, and dolls and doll fashions. The food will include cheese steak sandwiches, glazed almonds, fry bread and nachos. McCauley said the girls softball team will be selling Krispy Kreme donuts and hot chocolate; the Big Brothers Big Sisters will have hot chocolate for sell as well; and the Community Presbyterian Church is selling cookies and hot drinks.
A shuttle service will be provided from Payson High School to help contain parking problems. The Mazatzal Casino will run a shuttle to the parade route between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., then the Payson Unified School District will provide a bus for the return trip between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
"It's really exciting because it's beginning to grow," McCauley said. She expects the growth to continue and would like to eventually decorate all of Green Valley Park and have fireworks display as a finale every year.
This is McCauley's first year coordinating the event.
"I'm very blessed by the people who have helped in the past," she said. "Marilyn Wolfe and her volunteers have it so well organized it's working like a well-oiled machine."
To get photos of the parade before it starts, staging will be at both Sawmill Crossing and on Meadow Street.
For more information about the parade and accompanying events, call (928) 468-6074.