Fireworks Will Cap Electric Light Parade

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There is one thing you can count on when the fifth annual Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade pulls out of Sawmill Crossing at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 -- it will be cold.

And if history is any indicator, it could go downhill from there. Last year, you will remember, it snowed mightily.

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One of the participants in last year's Electric Light Parade, a snowy event that attracted a throng of Rim Country residents.

But that's the way Christmas parades tend to go, and, when you think about it, it's half the fun. How much Christmas spirit would you feel if you were watching a Christmas parade on a balmy, smog-filled evening in Phoenix?

So buck up and get out there, because this year's parade -- while probably not the biggest -- just could be the best yet, according to parade chairperson Judy Pittman. And the parade will take place as scheduled, regardless of the elements.

"Rain or snow, we will put the parade on," she said.

Once it wends its way down Main Street to Green Valley Park, the celebration continues.

"We're going to have a tree lighting ceremony for the official Payson town Christmas tree," she said. "And then we're going to have fireworks -- probably 10 or 15 minutes worth.

Although Pittman stopped short of calling it an annual tradition, this is the second year the parade has concluded with fireworks. The first time it happened because the annual Fourth of July fireworks were postponed due to the Willow Fire. Originally rescheduled for Labor Day, they got pushed back to the Electric Light Parade, which worked out just fine.

"Everybody enjoyed it so much we decided to do it again this year," Pittman said. "They worked in the middle of a snowstorm last year, and it was very beautiful."

Parade highlights include an appearance by the big guy himself.

"Santa will be in the parade -- Santa and Mrs. Claus," Pittman said.

And if you are one of those who questions how Santa manages to visit every household around the world in just one night, you are going to be equally amazed by what he's planning to pull off at our very own parade.

"Actually, he's going to be at the beginning and the end (of the parade)," Pittman said. "He's going to be the grand marshall on a float at the beginning, and he'll be at the end with a surprise.

Roger Freeman is doing the honors as Santa Claus.

"He's a professional Santa," Pittman said. "He's very good (and he has) a beautiful beard."

Others who are creating floats for the parade include APS, several churches, Energy West, Lumberman's, the police and fire departments, Roy Haught Excavating, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Rim Country Classic Auto Club, and more.

"We have good variety, so far," Pittman said.

There will also be food and beverage vendors along the parade route.

"Nonprofits are allowed for food and drink, and some of the businesses along Main Street will be open also," Pittman said. There's no charge, but vendors should contact the Main Street office for an assigned location.

Pittman has only lived here about 18 months, but she has already established a reputation of sorts.

"I was the only one to decorate a porta-potty last year," she laughed. "That qualified me to run the parade."

Seriously, Pittman is a member of the Main Street Organization Committee, and they happened to need someone to chair this parade.

"I get so excited about the holidays, and I loved the parade last year, even with the snow," she said. "They were nice enough to choose me."

But the former Tucson resident really did decorate a porta-potty and we have photographic proof.

"Actually, you could sponsor a porta-potty last year, and come to find out I was the only one to sponsor a porta-potty," she said. "I got some nice comments on it."

Pittman calls Payson her "Stuckeyville," and hopes that Main Street becomes all that she believes it can be.

"I would really like to see Main Street get developed," she said, "-- little specialty shops and all. I would like this to be a destination, because it is so beautiful."

(Main Street will be closed from Sawmill Crossing to Green Valley Park beginning at 4:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to use the Payson High School parking lot and take the free shuttle from the west end of the PHS parking lot down McLane to the parade route.)

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