Holiday Happenings

Rim residents make Christmas merry for neighbors



This is the weekend to get out and enjoy a great tamale dinner and help the Public Safety Christmas for Kids Program by donating a new toy or cash to help public safety personnel make the holiday happy for youngsters in need. The Tamales for Toys event is Saturday, Dec. 3 at Gerardo’s Firewood Cafe.

Rim Country residents have a wonderful assortment of ways to make Christmas merry for their neighbors.

Children and whole families, senior citizens and even the Pine library can be “adopted” for the holidays and all kinds of special programs are planned to enhance everyone’s celebrations.

The Court Appointed Special Advocates program of Gila County makes it possible for residents to embrace a child in the foster system and provide them with a gift or gifts.

Snowflake Ornaments representing a child in foster care are on a Christmas tree at the Gila County courthouse lobby, 714 S. Beeline Hwy., Payson.

It is suggested gifts be between $20 and $25 and returned, wrapped, no later than Dec. 7.

For more information, contact Katrisha Stuler at the probation window at the courthouse or call (928) 474-7145.

Those who would rather give of their time, the Payson chapter of the Salvation Army needs Bell Ringers through Christmas Eve.

Bell Ringers need to be able to commit to two-hour shifts, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Ringers will be working at Walmart, Walgreens, Bashas’ and Safeway.

Anyone can be a Bell Ringer, including those who need to complete court-ordered community service.

For details and to sign up, call John Morgan at (928) 474-8454 or (928) 595-0517.

The Salvation Army will again have an “Angel Tree” at National Bank of Arizona, 804 S. Beeline Hwy., Payson, from which residents can choose an “angel tag” and provide Christmas gifts for area youngsters who would not have a holiday without assistance.

The Public Safety Christmas for Kids Program also makes it possible to help brighten the holiday season for those in need.

The Payson Police and Fire Departments, the officers with the local Arizona Department of Public Safety, and those with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, the Gila County Attorney’s Office and the Payson Court present the Public Safety Christmas for Kids Program each year.

The program involves the Toys for Tamales event and taking the youngsters registered for assistance shopping.

The Toys for Tamales is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 at Gerardo’s Firewood Café, which is graciously being opened for the event by owner Gerardo Moceri. The toy brought to exchange for a tamale dinner should be valued at $5 or more and we will be selling plates for $7, which includes two tamales, beans, chips and salsa and a bottle of water. A package of a dozen will be sold for $15. All proceeds and toys will go to needy children in northern Gila County.

The program will assist children from Tonto Basin and Young, up to Forest Lakes and Pine and Strawberry. Registration for the program will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 6 and Wednesday, Dec. 7 at the Payson Town Hall, 303 N. Beeline Hwy. Look for the banner hanging out in front of where sign up will take place.

To register for the program, the family must provide: proof of residency, including a utility bill, Arizona Identification Card or driver’s license and the child’s (children’s) birth certificate(s) or school record of each child in the home.

Cash donations may be made at either the Payson Police or Fire Department offices from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Funds are running low and there are expected to be a lot of children needing assistance this year.

The program will also have toy drop-off boxes at Walmart, Stage, Sears, KMOG, and the Payson Police and Fire Department offices. Additional drop spots may be arranged, as the program is able to obtain boxes.

Shopping with the children will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 19 and Tuesday, Dec. 20. Families will be notified after registration of qualification.

A Santa Shop is also being planned as part of this year’s program. Details will be announced as soon as they are available.

Optimist, Rotary and Kiwanis club members, the director of the Payson Senior Center, school district personnel, other non-profit representatives and interested individuals are working on a community effort to provide Christmas gifts for the area’s displaced and disadvantaged youth.

Possible items to be provided are hat, scarf and gloves, sweater/hooded sweatshirt, flannel pajamas, underwear, socks, etc., and an age-appropriate

book, game or puzzle.


It is asked that toys donated at the Tamale for Toys event be worth at least $5.

The focus will be on clothing and other personal necessities only, along with an age-appropriate puzzle/toy.

The school district personnel already knows who the families in need are, so they will be interviewed by district representatives who will obtain a list of items to purchase along with sizes. They will also obtain permission to give the gifts in person if this is something the giver wishes.

There are checks in place with other organizations and within the school district itself to prevent duplication of efforts by other organizations to provide Christmas gifts. Financial donations in the form of checks should be made out to Rotary or the Senior Center, stating that the funds are for Christmas Boxes to obtain a tax deduction.

If a donor wishes to have someone else purchase and/or wrap for them, this can be done by volunteers. If you wish to get started, e-mail or call Joan Young at or Allic at allic.bales@

It appears the size of families needing assistance will range from two to eight (or nine) persons, counting one or more parents and possibly two families at a single address. While the focus of this Christmas campaign is the youth; adults can be included if so desired. Items will be wrapped individually and placed in a large bag/box for the recipient(s).

All involved are invited to wrap gifts at the Senior Center Saturday, Dec. 17. Center director Joanne Conlin suggests starting early, but no specific time has yet been set.

To keep participants informed, an e-mail list is being created. It is not yet complete, so in the meantime, contact Joan Young at (928) 472-2264 or at her e-mail address.

The Payson Elks Lodge will take area children on a shopping spree Dec. 3 and the Greater Payson Moose Lodge gives a Christmas party in which its young guests receive gifts. To find out how to help, call the Elks at (928) 474-2572 or the Moose at (928) 474-6212.


Wrapped or unwrapped, all toys donated to the Public Safety Christmas for Kids Program will be appreciated.

Local residents and businesses may help less fortunate seniors in the community by stopping by any Edward Jones branch office during regular business hours to select a “Senior Angel” between Nov. 28 through Dec. 16. Shop for your chosen angel and drop off all gifts, which Edward Jones staff will deliver to Payson area seniors in need.

Branch locations are Suite B, 411 S. Beeline Highway and 113 W. Main St. in Payson and 4010 N. Highway 87 in Pine.

Give a gift to the whole Pine-Strawberry community in 2012 by purchasing a book for the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library “Tree of Giving” fund-raiser. 

The library’s Christmas tree is up and ready for those interested to select a book (located on ornament) for the collection.

The object is to buy new titles for children such as Carl Hiaasen’s “Chomp” and new titles for adults such as “Phantom” by Ted Bell and “Dorchester Terrace” by Anne Perry, as well as DVDs to be published in 2012.

When the books arrive the library, staff will place bookplates inside noting the gift. All donations are tax-deductible. For additional information, contact the library at (928) 476-3678.

Holiday events

The Payson High School theatre production class will present a musical theatre showcase at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 30 at the PHS Auditorium.

The program will include a variety of musical theatre pieces presented by the students as their final project after studying American musical theatre.

Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for students.

More light-hearted festivities start showing up on the calendar Thursday, Dec. 1. The students at Julia Randall Elementary School will have their annual holiday concert at 6:30 p.m., at the Payson High School Auditorium.

There is no admission and everyone is invited to attend.

The Payson High School Future Educators of Arizona Chapter host a benefit program starring master stage hypnotist Michael DeSchalit at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2. The program will be presented at the PHS Auditorium.

The show is a benefit for the Payson HS Future Educators of Arizona Chapter to fund the many different expenses students incur throughout the year such as travel to conferences and service projects.

The PHS Auditorium is at 301 S. McLane Payson. To purchase tickets in advance from the Payson HS FEA, call Ingrid Schon (928) 472-2050. Advance purchase tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults. Tickets will also be available at the door the evening of the show and are $7 for students and $10 for adults, but because there will only be one performance, tickets will be subject to availability.

The Payson campus of Gila Community College will host the Fourth Annual Art Show and Sale from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2.

Student artwork from stained glass, drawing, digital photography, Photoshop, watercolor, oil painting, printmaking, ceramics, paper crafts, folk art, jewelry, sculpture and quilted clothing will be on display.

This is also First Friday and fun continues on Payson’s Historic Main Street.

The Mudhens are sponsoring a train show at Community Presbyterian Church. The show will run from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday Dec. 2 and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3.

The exhibit is modular in design with modules built by several different people. Each year Santa rides a special train. This year the layout will feature several sound equipped locomotives and even some sounds from mines and mills along the line.

Admission is free, however, if you bring a can of food for the Payson Area Food Drive, the hungry of Payson will benefit.

The Artists of the Rim Gallery will be raffling works by six of its member artists. Bring a donation of nonperishable food for area food banks and get a raffle ticket.

This is the second such event at the gallery. Thanks to the caring people of Payson, the first Food Bank Raffle was a smashing success; a good deal of food and money was delivered to the food bank.

This event will also be an opportunity to say goodbye to one of the gallery’s original artist/partners. Western artist Donn C. Morris is “retiring” from the gallery as of Jan. 1, 2012.

The gallery is having what is being called a “Mega Art Sale” through the end of December.

Down the Street Art Gallery will celebrate First Friday, Dec. 2, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a Holiday Gathering — inviting old friends and new to join all the artists in holiday cheer, hot cider and yummy treats. It will also be the start of the “Bigger” Red Bow Event, where red bows mark special artwork with special low prices, plus new holiday gift items.

New artist, photographer Rick Jackson will also be the featured guest at the festivities.

Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art will host Vyktoria Pratt Keating in a solo concert for its First Friday celebration. Keating will be performing Celtic Christmas tunes at the open house event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2.

Payson’s annual Electric Light Parade is the evening of Saturday, Dec. 3. It starts at 6 p.m. at Green Valley Park and goes east on Historic Main Street to the Sawmill Crossing.

Sponsored by Chili’s, there are more than 50 entries registered to participate in the event. The theme is North Pole Fantasy.

Friends of Payson Parks & Recreation — citizens committed to raising funds to enhance Parks and Recreation programs and provide volunteers to assist with those programs — invite everyone to stop by its stand in front of the Oxbow Saloon on Main Street the night of Saturday, Dec. 3. Cups of chili, hot chocolate and apple cider will be available for purchase starting at 5 p.m., with all proceeds going to FPPR. Help support Payson Parks and Recreation and get a nice warm cup of chili before settling in to watch the Electric Light Parade.

The Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main St. will have a Spaghetti Dinner from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 before the Electric Light Parade.

Dinner costs $5 plus a non-perishable food item. There will also be baked goods and hot chocolate for sale, plus a raffle from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Some of the raffle items include a Homer Sanders print Whatcha Doin’, Western mirrors, a Bath & Body Works collection, homemade jams and jellies basket, hair salon gift certificate, ice cream cake, family fun packages, and much more. Come support the Community Presbyterian Church’s Child Learning Center Pre-K children’s benefit to help the homeless students of Payson.

The Payson Senior Center Thrift Store will be open late Saturday, Dec. 3 for folks to enjoy the Electric Light Parade with up-front viewing. Bring a chair, browse the thrift store, which will have special sales for the occasion and enjoy cocoa, cider and cookies.


Bruce VanCamp, who has been involved with both the Payson Fire Department and the Payson Police Department has seen a lot of great donations by Rim Country residents and visitors to the Public Safety Christmas for Kids Program.

A Magical Holiday Affair is planned Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Payson Senior Center to benefit the Meals on Wheels program for the homebound.

The evening will feature an elegant dinner of prime rib or Chicken Marsala accompanied by holiday fun, music, the Electric Light Parade and more.

There will be reserved seating amid cozy fire rings for an up-front view of the parade.

Dinner will be served at 5 p.m., followed by the parade at 6 p.m., with dessert afterward. The cost is $30 per person, of which a portion is tax deductible.

Call (928) 474-4876 for details and to reserve tickets.

Creating Christmas ornaments makes holiday memories that will last forever. The Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library has planned another super fun activity for youngsters to teach them how to make their own holiday ornaments.

Two programs are scheduled, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 8 there will be holiday ornament making in the library for children ages 6 to 9; a program for those 10 to 13 will be from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 15.

The registration deadline for the programs is Tuesday, Dec. 6. To register call (928) 476-3678 or go online to

Books, purses and shoes are on sale at half price Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 at the Pine/Strawberry Thrift Store. Holiday wear is now being featured. The store is located at 3916 N. Highway 87 in downtown Pine. For information, call (928) 476-4633.


The Payson Christian Ministerial Fellowship presents its Spirit of Christmas program at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11 at the Payson High School Auditorium.

The program is a modern rock musical with the traditional story of the birth of Jesus woven through the pageant along with a play that depicts a challenging family scenario that gets played out throughout the program. It also features some of the most talented singers in Rim Country.

No admission is charged, but audience members are asked to bring an item of nonperishable food for the area food banks.

The Payson Choral Society’s annual Christmas concert is Saturday, Dec. 17.

The program, “Believe,” directed by Daria Mason, with accompaniment by Victoria Harris comes to the Payson High School Auditorium at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. — please note this is a change in performance times from last year’s concert.

Concert tickets are $10 at the door for adults, and $8 sold in advance. Children and students up to age 18 are admitted free. Tickets may be purchased in advance from Choral Society members, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and at the library.

Tickets will also be available at the door before each concert.

Proceeds from the concerts provide musical scholarships to middle school and high school students. These are awarded each year at the spring concert.

For added information, call John Landino at (928) 468-0023.

Jazz guitar and vocalist Pete Pancrazi returns to the Payson Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main St., at 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11 for his annual “Have a Jazzy Christmas” performance.

It will be entertaining for all ages and all musical preferences — it will be a celebration of popular Christmas music.

Joining him will be Nick Manson on piano, Vic Kottner of bass, and Gerry Reynolds on drums.

A request for seating sent to or (602) 619-3355 would be appreciated, although the church doors will remain open to all.

A donation of $5 or more is encouraged to support the program, which includes refreshments.


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