Expect more lights and activities than ever before during this year's Mountain Village Holiday's Festival of Lights which begins Friday when the community Christmas tree is lit at 6 p.m. on the corner of Route 66 and Second Street. Starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday, the mood will be set for the celebration as the Arizona Dickens Carolers stroll along historic Route 66 in downtown Williams, singing all your favorite holiday carols.
Local military personnel that are home for the holidays will light the tree. Also at that time, the Harry Cole Tree on top of High School Hill will be lit. The evening will include an honoring of the military, live Nativity, animated characters and the arrival of Santa Claus. Refreshments will be served by Pine Country Restaurant.
A 44-foot tree arrived in Williams Nov. 14. Crews from the Grand Canyon Railway, city of Williams and Arizona Public Service transported the tree 9.9 miles from Bill Williams Mountain to downtown Williams. The Williams Police Department escorted the crews into town to assure the tree arrived safely.
The GCR crew began their journey at 6 a.m. that day and remained on the job until the tree was standing at 5:15 p.m., according to GCR Trainmaster Ervin White.
"The crews did a fabulous job. They were fantastic. The tree would not have happened without them," said Diana Croteau, chairman of the Williams Christmas Committee.
Volunteers are still needed to decorate the tree. The tree will feature more than 25,000 lights and a minimum of 500 ornaments. Those wishing to decorate the tree are encouraged to contact Croteau at (928) 607-0123.
The only outdoor ice skating rink in the state of Arizona ‹ located next to the Williams Recreation Center ‹ remains open. Skaters will be able to skate through Jan. 21 during sessions offered daily. The price to skate is $8 for adults and $5 for children age 17 and under. However, local residents can enjoy the rink at a special rate of $3 per session, $5 per day or $60 per month. The price includes the cost of skate rentals.
Grand Canyon Railway's Polar Express journey to the North Pole continues through Jan. 13. Those that ride the Polar should set aside time to stroll the grounds of GCR, which include numerous magical outdoor lighting displays. For train schedules, reservations or information, visit www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN.
Holiday cheer continues as Santa makes an appearance at Santa Land at the Williams Recreation Center from noon-4:30 p.m. on Dec. 2. The official lighting of the trees at Monument Park located on the west end of Williams is scheduled for 6 p.m., prior to the start of the APS Parade of Lights.
Servicemen and women home for the holidays are needed to ride on the Grand Marshal's float in the Parade of Lights at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2. Local servicemen and women, along with Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kyle Dent, will serve as this year's Grand Marshals. Honorary Grand Marshals will be GCR owners Max and Thelma Biegert. The theme of this year's holiday celebration is "Home for the Holidays."
If you know of a service person that will be home on Dec. 2, contact Carolyn Smith at (928) 635-4451 to reserve a space on the float.
There is still time to sign up for the Mountain Village Holiday 2006 for the business/residential lighting contest and APS Parade of Lights. Don't forget to turn in your business/residential contest application soon at the chamber office. The application deadline for the lighting contests is Nov. 30 with judging taking place on Dec. 14.
The first place winner of the residential lighting contest will receive a $100 credit on their electric bill. The first place prize will be given to the resident that best portrays the depiction of the theme, "Home for the Holidays." Everyone that enters will receive a $20 credit on his or her electric bill.
For more information about Mountain Village Holiday festivities, contact the Chamber of Commerce staff at (928) 635-0273.