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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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12/6/2013 6:00:00 AM
Courthouse Lighting, parade kick off the holidays Saturday
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier, fileA mass of people cheer after the 2012 Yavapai Courthouse Christmas Lighting in downtown Prescott.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier, file
A mass of people cheer after the 2012 Yavapai Courthouse Christmas Lighting in downtown Prescott.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier, fileSanta Claus waves to the crowd while making his way down Cortez Street Saturday afternoon during the 30th annual City of Prescott Christmas Parade Dec. 1, 2012. This year’s parade, whose theme is “The Trees of Christmas,” begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, and will include about 100 entries.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier, file
Santa Claus waves to the crowd while making his way down Cortez Street Saturday afternoon during the 30th annual City of Prescott Christmas Parade Dec. 1, 2012. This year’s parade, whose theme is “The Trees of Christmas,” begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, and will include about 100 entries.
Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - With a chance of snow showers on Saturday, Prescott's two signature December events - the Christmas Parade and the Courthouse Lighting - could offer even more holiday atmosphere than usual.

While weather in "Arizona's Christmas City" usually cooperates with sunny skies on the big parade/lighting day, organizers have occasionally had to deal with snow. For the most part, they say, the white backdrop adds to the fun.

"In all of the years, we've had two or three bad days," longtime Parade Chair Beverly Williams said Wednesday. "But we've never canceled the parade."

It was a close call a couple of years ago, when severe snow and wind pounded the parade. But, Williams said, the festivities went on. "It did diminish the crowd," she said, "but the people who came loved it."

Although the final weather-related decision will be made at 11 a.m. Saturday, Williams said, "Right now, it's full-steam ahead."

Prescott Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer David Maurer said weather likely would not deter the plans. "It would have to be significantly poor weather for us to cancel the parade, and the lighting always goes on," he said.

The day will kick off with the 1 p.m. parade, which this year will include about 100 entries. Playing into the theme "The Trees of Christmas," the 31st annual parade will feature variations on the central holiday symbol.

Maurer said many of the entries are getting into the Christmas-tree spirit by coming up with creative ideas. "A lot of people are doing some interesting things with trees," he said. "People are having fun with it."

For instance, the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo float will include a number of western-themed trees, ranging from a saddle tree to a single tree to a horseshoe tree.

"We always try to take the parade theme and give it a western slant," said Kathy Hanna, office manager at the rodeo.

In addition, the rodeo float will include a memorial tree that will serve as a tribute to 19 fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots.

The parade also will commemorate a national tragedy from 72 years ago. Falling as it does on Pearl Harbor Day, the procession will be led by two of Prescott's survivors of that 1941 attack.

George Hauk, who served on the USS California, and Ed Sowman, who served on the USS New Orleans - both ships that were victims of the bombing of Pearl Harbor - will be on hand for the parade.

Bill Williamson, president of the local Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors organization, noted that the two men, now in the their mid-90s, "are among some of the last local survivors" of the Pearl Harbor attack.

"This is a chance for people to meet a part of living history," Williamson said of the veterans' appearance in the parade. (Williamson asks any direct descendants of the Pearl Harbor attack who are interested in joining the organization to call him at 928-708-0843).

Along with the dozens of floats and walking entries, the parade will include seven marching bands that will provide rousing Christmas music.

The parade will start at Cortez and Willis, and will proceed along Cortez, Goodwin, and Montezuma. It usually takes about an hour and a half for all of the entries to circle the plaza area.

After the excitement of the parade clears, downtown will move into its other long-running holiday tradition - the Courthouse Lighting.

Beginning at 6 p.m. on the Courthouse Plaza, the 59th annual lighting event will feature a retelling of the story of the first Christmas by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, along with Christmas music from local choirs.

Maurer noted that he often hears from local adults who reminisce about singing with the choir as children. To allow those people to relive the experience, the choir will invite past choir members in the audience to join the group of children on the courthouse steps.

The night will end with the main event - the illumination of thousands of lights that adorn the courthouse and the trees surrounding it.

New this year will be four large trees - one at each of the main corners of the plaza - that will be double lit with different colored lights, giving an impression of animation.

Although attendance at the two events depends largely on the weather, Maurer estimates that as many as 10,000 attend the parade, while about 7,500 attend the lighting.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks.

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, December 07, 2013
Article comment by: Ed Mora

I thought Christmas was about Santa Clause elfs candy canes and retail sales....that's what I was brought up to think

Posted: Saturday, December 07, 2013
Article comment by: S P

Christmas is a celebration of hope,-light in the darkness and cold that sets in with winter. It is actually,(..though of course not called Christmas..) older than Christianity,-this celebration of hope, in the very time of year when all natural indicators point to death, or hibernation. I would by no means suggest taking Christ out of it, and certainly we can be thankful for our veterans and their service, everyday of the year. This is about each of us sharing that kindness that Christ taught with his actions, we stand in the face of the bleakness that is increasing cold and darkness,-hand in hand with our fellow men and women,-regardless of their belief system, ideology, or color of skin,-we humans are all in this life together, we all face the cold and death that is the ying and yang of life,-and we are all made better by community,-hand in hand with each other, facing this natural time of the cycle of death and renewal. I say Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to all )

Posted: Friday, December 06, 2013
Article comment by: l b C

At Christmas we need to focus on the reason for the season. Jesus. No more war and no more memorials

Posted: Friday, December 06, 2013
Article comment by: Alan Barrios

As a veteran myself (U.S Navy, 4 years) I must admit that Mike Wells makes alot of sense. This great country was founded on Judeo-Christian values not veteran praise. Christmas is about Christ. We veterans have our special day when we can reflect on our service. God bless America forever.

Posted: Friday, December 06, 2013
Article comment by: To: Mike Wells

@ Mike ~ Christmas {Jesus} is about people from all walks of life ~ yup that means acknowledging people from all walks of life.
Merry Christmas and give thanks to the Lord above for people from all walks of life.

Posted: Friday, December 06, 2013
Article comment by: B C

Mike Wells-------you aren't much for thinking about big stories (WW ll) and even bigger stories (the birth of Christ) at the same time are you? Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ and we might not even be able to do that if it was not for the brave men and women who fought for our freedom and our right to worship as we desire. I hope you have a prayerful Christmas and also pause to remember the Veterans too.

Posted: Friday, December 06, 2013
Article comment by: Mike Wells

Its Christmas. What a wonderful time of year. So why are we turning it into a memorial of Pearl Harbor. I thought that was why we have a Memorial Day. OK, OK lets thank the vets again, THANK YOU! Wait don't we do that on Veterans Day. Come on Prescott, Christmas is a time to remember something MUCH BIGGER. The birth of Jesus. Lets keep that in mind.

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