Guest Column: Is it really time for the holidays already?

I thought I would have gotten this article done at least a month ago but you know what they say, "Better late than never." I will try to update you on the many things the city of Williams and the Recreation Department has had on their busy calendar since July 1.

The recreation summer programs, "Summer Rec" for the younger kids, "Basketball with Brandon" for our teens, swim team for our community WACY Dolphins and our adult softball league all completed their season with record participation and great success.

The July 4 celebration was a little soggy. No big deal. The wonderful team at our Chamber of Commerce pulled out a supply of rain slickers and we continued the fun and laughter right through the fantastic parade. The Rotary barbecue and festivities at the Recreation Park proved to be a good time. Mayor Moore was the first one in

the dunk tank! July continued with the annual "Relay for Life" event at Cureton Park, the ham radio operators "Hamfest" at the Bob Dean Rodeo Grounds, the annual "Jam Zone" at the recreation facilities, the Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo, two "Free Swim" days and ended with the "Environthon," a group of approximately 500 young people from around the country, in town for a day of science experiments at Cataract Lake, who were surprised with a "Western Night" at our Bob Dean Rodeo Grounds.

In August our swim team attended a swim meet in Cottonwood and made us very proud with their many awards. There was a Free Swim day at the Aquatic Center. Our youth went back to school on Aug. 8. The Kaibab Forest Service celebrated their Centennial at Camp Clover. The Bob Dean Rodeo Grounds was the center of a long list of activities that included a couple of roping events, hunter safety classes, cowboy church, the annual Firing Pin Gun Show and concluded the month with our professional sport the PRCA Rodeo. Buckskinner Park saw seven different families or organizations reserve the picnic areas for their special events and barbecues. Cool Country Cruise-In was hosted by Twisters on Route 66, our local Habitat for Humanity produced a fundraising softball tournament at Cureton Park and the new town clock was installed and dedicated thanks to the efforts of Williams Rotary Club, Williams Chamber of Commerce and our city crews.

September began with the last day of the PRCA Rodeo and a Free Swim at the Aquatic Center. The Bob Dean Rodeo Grounds hosted the completion of the hunter safety courses, a three-day carnival, cowboy church and the Verde Valley Rangers Sheriffs Posse brought the state round-up (roping) in for the first time. The rodeo grounds finalized the season with the city of Williams holding a property auction. The very successful "Basketball with Brandon" was converted into "Teen Time" at the Youth Recreation Center every Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to midnight thanks to United Way of northern Arizona and the Williams Alliance. This program will continue until Aug. 1, 2009! Williams Clean and Beautiful produced another very successful Clean-Up Day and sponsored a Free Swim day at the Aquatics Center. Our local Habitat for Humanity hosted the annual fundraising golf tournament at Elephant Rocks Golf Course and our Chamber of Commerce produced "Casino Night" to help fund their youth scholarship program.

October saw the onset of Wednesday night High School and Adult Basketball at WEMS gymnasium from 6-9 p.m. thanks to the volunteer efforts of Doris Ann Mertz. Open Gym for youth eighth grade and younger at the WEMS gymnasium started on Friday nights from 6-9 p.m. with funding from the Williams Alliance and personnel provided by the city of Williams. These two programs will continue, when school is in session, until the middle of May 2009. Family Craft Nights, Tuesday 5-7 p.m. and Family Game Nights, Thursday 6-9 p.m. were added to the Youth Recreation Center weekly activities thanks again to the Williams Alliance funding sources. "A Taste of Williams" was produced by our Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Association to assist with their "Teachers Fund." The Youth Recreation Center Halloween Party was held at the center on Halloween night from 6-10 p.m. Popcorn balls, personal pumpkins and crafts were decorated, with refreshments, candy and fun for all.

November is here and we are looking forward to the continuation of all the new and improved programs for youth and their families that are available at the Youth Recreation Center and the extended programs held at the Williams Elementary-Middle School gymnasium. The "Polar Express" begins tomorrow, so let's shine up those welcome mats and get ready for all the visitors that will be in town. Once again our local Habitat for Humanity will be producing one of their wonderful "Grand Old Opry" nights at the Bob Dean Rodeo Grounds Rodeo Barn on Friday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The Williams Chamber of Commerce and Williams-Grand Canyon News will sponsor an evening of Jazz Saturday at 7 p.m. with the United States Air Force Band of the West performing at the Middle School Auditorium.

A Free Swim day will be held Tuesday from 1-4 p.m. in honor of Veterans Day. A "Wii Sport/Rockband" tournament will be held at the Youth Recreation Center on Nov. 15. Sign-up will be from 10 a.m. to noon, tournament games start at 12:30, free barbeque for all at 2 p.m. and a free raffle will end the day at 5 p.m. On Nov. 20 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. the Youth Recreation Center will host the "Red Ribbon Award Ceremony" and cookie social honoring all the youth and community members that pledge to be drug free. The Fourth Annual "Magic of Christmas in Williams" tree lighting ceremony will begin with entertainment downtown at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 28 with the lighting of the tree scheduled for 6 p.m.

December will continue all the special programming for our youth and their families, along with the onslaught of visitors from the "Polar Express." Santa Claus will be stopping at the Youth Recreation Center on Dec. 6 for his annual visit to "Santa Land" he will talk to every kid (young or old) and hand out goody bags from noon to 5 p.m. We will have refreshments for everyone attending our "Santa Land" festivities. Then Santa will be joining in the fun as a wonderful participant in the APS "Parade of Lights" that evening at 6 p.m. It looks like our teens are organizing a special "New Year Dance" this year at the Youth Recreation Center - as they provide me with more information I will share all the specifics with you through notices in the Williams-Grand Canyon News.

As plans solidify for 2009 I will work very hard to keep you informed. I for one am very grateful, thankful and proud to work in and be a part of our wonderful community. Mark your calendars and keep joining us for all the fun and festivities our city offers.

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