Instead of sleigh bells and snowflakes, boats, horses and tractors were the themes at Saturday’s ninth annual Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade. While a few sleds and reindeer snuck their way in, it was the Southwest’s warm weather activities that took center state.
Payson Regional Medical Center sponsored a “Christmas in paradise” float complete with a truck-drawn pontoon boat and surfboards.
Electric lit palm trees swayed in the frigid night air and boat goers waved enthusiastically at the crowd of several thousand who lined the street from Highway 87 to the Green Valley Park.
Besides a boat, parade participants trotted down the street on horseback with sleigh bells, rode by on tractors and the sheriff’s posse made an impressive site with a half dozen Jeeps decked out in flashing lights and music.
Leading off the parade was the Payson Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron 209 carrying the colors. The Civil Air Patrol is made up of cadets and seniors who are part of the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary.
The Home Depot took first place for best float with Homer’s Peppermint Palace featuring the Peppermint Forest and Lollipop Woods. A flatbed was decorated with hundreds of strands of white lights, Christmas trees, candy canes, lollipops, snowflakes and jolly team members. Out of 120 possible points, The Home Depot scored 118.
For walkers, the Payson High School Longhorn Marching Band came in first with 76 points.
Tied for first place in motorized floats, the High Country Garden Club/Plant Fair Nursery and Pine-Strawberry Fire Department had 83 points each, said Judy Pittman, parade volunteer.
Another 40 entries, including Miss Tonto Apache 2009, impressed onlookers with their unique holiday lighting. Several floats even handed out candy to the delight of children.
Afterward, people gathered at Green Valley Park for the tree lighting ceremony.
Riding up in a horse-drawn carriage in his bright red Christmas suit, Santa Claus flipped the switch on the tree.
Enough of us for Christmas
The Mogollon night held a bittersweet cold.
Campfires stroked Christmas, a cozy abode.
Folks meandered down traffic-free streets.
Pausing to hobnob or share a hot drink.
Children, bundled in beanies, parkas, and gloves,
Played with each other, with holiday love.
The merchants with glee flung open their doors.
They catered to all, just like in folklore.
They said, “come in, come all and warm up your feet.
The ghost town we live in gave us a great treat.”
Then a silence fell like none I had known,
Way in the distance, a band struck its tone.
They came down the street carts, trucks, and sleighs.
Then came a church float that said “Happy Birth-day.”
Unicycles weaved, to here and to fro,
Throwing treats to children, then off they would go.
Followed by llamas, horses and wise men.
Of course, Fred the D.J. spoke with a grin.
Santa flew in from somewhere up north
On a sleigh, drawn by Major, the bonny black horse.
One can tell when the cold wind blows,
For Mrs. Claus came too, rosy cheeks and bright nose.
So we followed them all to the town Christmas tree
Every Who in Are-vil had a heart filled with glee.
Mayor Evans didn’t show, like we all thought he might,
But the flip of a switch still lit up the night.
MERRY CHRISTMAS PAYSON.
By Denny Harger