Holiday Spirit Plentiful In Pine And Strawberry


A fishing Santa Claus is part of an elaborate light display that lit up the Strawberry sky Thanksgiving night at the home of Rick Kubiak.

A fishing Santa Claus is part of an elaborate light display that lit up the Strawberry sky Thanksgiving night at the home of Rick Kubiak. Photo by Joy Hafford. |

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Last Friday was what the retail market calls Black Friday.

Christmas shopping that day has never appealed to me, as Black Friday conjures up something dark that doesn’t fit with the spirit of Christmas, which is bright, sparkling and joyful.

This year, however, I ventured out to the Pine Mall (the Community Center Thrift Store) as my out-of-town guests wisely wanted to peruse local shops.

Small-town businesses may have trouble competing on the busiest shopping day of the year, but the Pine thrift shop, known for great merchandise and bargains, saw a steady flow of customers throughout the day, including many locals who know the best bargains are right here.

I was amazed to find the international Santa known as Kwanzaa, complete with its original box. The International Santa Claus Collection was discontinued when International Resourcing closed its doors, and the pieces are hard to find.

I have been looking for the African Santa for my collection. I also found a large lighted General Store to add to my Christmas village for a fraction of the retail price.

It pays to shop close to home whether Black Friday or any other day to support local businesses and keep the money in the community. The local thrift store uses proceeds to fund valuable programs here all year.

Festival of Lights

Saturday night, Nov. 26, was vibrant with Christmas spirit at the Festival of Lights with the town tree lighting and a visit from Santa. Santa brought his personal photographer and elf, along with Mrs. Claus, and all the good boys and girls shared their wish lists and had their picture taken with him.

Pine-Strawberry Business Community volunteers who coordinate the event, including Gail Jones and Bill Armbruster, were working as busily as Santa’s elves serving up delicious munchies and beverages for the numerous attendees who filled the Cultural Hall to capacity.

I peeked in the kitchen and saw countless trays of goodies contributed by our wonderful businesses and community members. Volunteers like Lynne Coykendall of Pine by Design and Larry Baker of Tymeless Antiques were coordinating the kitchen flurry.

My husband found some great Christmas gifts at the vendor booths including a classic doo-wop CD from the amazing CD collection of Roundup columnist and music guru DJ Craig and his wife, Ann.

Local folks, including Joe Kurtz and daughter Matilda, were enjoying all the activity, craft booths, and even a little dancing to joyful Christmas music.

Excited children ran to see Santa, had their faces painted, or made Christmas ornaments, and everyone had a jolly good time.

Can I borrow your yard, please?

More than a 100,000 lights lit up the sky Thanksgiving night in Strawberry as Rick Kubiak turned on the holiday display at his (and his neighbor’s) home on Tonto Rim Drive.

Neighbors have been known to borrow a cup of sugar or stick of butter, but Strawberry Patcher, Grace Deavey, informed me that her neighbor asked to borrow her lawn.

The 69,000 lights from the prior year’s display grew to 100,000 and he simply ran out of room. Like any good neighbor, Grace obliged.

After months of planning, Rick began setting up his display on Oct. l, with the goal to be done by Thanksgiving. Set back by an early snowfall he would not be deterred, working eight hours a day meticulously arranging the thousands of tiny lights.

No easy feat in the snow! The result was a magnificent wonderland complete with fishing Santa in a boat (with 1,000 lights), Christmas packages that open (another great find from the Pine Thrift Store), a reindeer and sleigh, Nativity, and more.

Late Thanksgiving day, neighbors who had watched the ongoing process and curious onlookers gathered along the street for the premiere of this year’s light show. Fifteen time clocks were in place and I imagine he crossed his fingers and took a deep breath before turning the switch, and the lights illuminated the night to cheers from spectators.

Rick Kubiak’s fourth holiday light display in Strawberry is a gift to the community that neighbors say gets bigger and better each year. No wonder, as recently when he couldn’t sleep from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., he planned how to set up his next three years of holiday displays. Look out neighbors!

Follow a bright glow in the night sky and it may lead you to his or someone else’s magical holiday show.

Kudos to Rick for an unbelievable, incredible job, and to everyone who takes time, talent, imagination, patience and heart to bring their Christmas spirit to all of us.

Christmas tree auction

Catch more Christmas spirit tonight, Friday, Dec. 2, at the annual Christmas tree auction at the Pine Strawberry School. The event begins at 6 p.m.

I hope to see everyone out with the kids for Santa’s next Pine appearance and to bid on the beautiful Christmas trees decorated by our Pine-Strawberry students.

I’m interested in seeing the different themes that the creative youth of Pine and Strawberry come up with, and the handmade decorations and Christmas cards that they cleverly design.

Holidays at the library

Dec. 8 there will be holiday ornament making from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library for children ages 6 to 9, then again on Dec. 15 for ages 10 to 13. While at the library, you can also pick up a box of See’s Candy or sign up for the See’s Candy Basket Raffle.

The Library Friends will have their meeting and Christmas Potluck at noon, Monday, Dec. 5, in the library’s Activity Room. Bring a friend, your favorite dish, and please bring a boxed cake mix and can of frosting for the food bank.

Coming up more happenings at the Pine-Strawberry School and special GED classes available right here in Pine. Please keep your events coming my way at haffordjoy1@gmail.com or 602-790-0248.

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