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<b>Join in to ensure Mountain Village Holiday's success</b>

Although this autumn’s mild weather might make winter seem a distant thought, several aspects of Mountain Village Holidays are already being mapped out.

It’s time to focus on holiday spirit and feel blessed for Williams’ small-town intimacy — a welcome diversion from grim news events that have plagued us all since the appalling Sept.11 terrorist attack we’ll never forget.

Appropriately, all the events, sponsored by Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce and Williams Main Street Association, are built around this year’s theme “‘Tis the Season.”

Our annual parade of lights, business/residential lighting contests and twinkling lights outlining downtown shops give visitors and residents a sense of warmth and welcome.

Williams’ annual festival of lights will focus primarily on Dec. 8 this year, with its parade of lights, crafts fair and Santaland all scheduled for that Saturday.

Dec. 8 events

• The Christmas Craft Fair is slated for 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in The Shed, Williams Skate Park where you can purchase handmade and homemade craft items as well as edible goodies. It’s a great place to leisurely shop for unique holiday items and be entertained simultaneously since carolers and musicians will be there throughout the day.

A limited amount of tables are available so you folks wanting to peddle your specialty wares are encouraged to reserve your spot now. Tables and chairs will be provided for the $10 entry fee, which is due by Nov. 26.

• A ChiliFest will be held 5-7 p.m. (or until chili runs out). This fund-raiser will also take place in the skate park. Chili will be sold for $1 per bowl and proceeds will go to Williams Lions Club Toy’s for Tot’s drive.

• Once again this year, the Williams Youth Recreation Center will be transformed into Santaland, an excellent chance to nab photos with Santa. This year two sessions are planned — 6-7:30 p.m. prior to the parade and 8:30-10 p.m. after the parade.

• The parade will begin promptly at 8 p.m. and will wend its way east on Route 66 from Ninth to Pine streets. This year’s grand marshals are the Chamber Ambassadors — a volunteer group, which turns out in force to promote Williams events. Parade of Lights entry applications are due Nov. 30.

Awards will be presented at the announcer’s stand located in the NAPA parking lot following the parade. Judging will be based on best lighting effects, originality, theme and creativity. Awards will be given in each of the following categories: Antique/Special Vehicle, Float, Equestrian Unit, Large Walking Group (five or more), Small Walking Group (one to five) and Emergency Vehicle. In addition, this year there will be two judges’ trophies for Best Commercial Business and Best of Theme Entry.

Polar Express

A new event this year will be Grand Canyon Railway’s Polar Express, a special train that will set out from Williams two weekends in December. It will depart from Williams Depot 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15 heading out of town to Red Lake, which will be transformed into the North Pole. There the train will pick up Santa Claus and bring him to town for a short visit. The train will be back at the depot at 7:30 p.m.

The trip is geared to children of all ages with cocoa, cookies, stories and songs. Children are encouraged to wear their PJs and can expect a special little treat from Santa on the return trip to Williams.

Lighting contests

The residential and business lighting contests run from Dec. 1 through New Year’s Day with participants agreeing to keep their lights glowing at least from dusk to 9 p.m. those nights. Entry applications for both are due Nov. 30.

Judges will start making the rounds to pick winning entries at 8 p.m. Dec. 13.

And don’t forget, residential entrants with 500 or more lights will receive a $10 credit on the December electric bill, courtesy of the City of Williams and Arizona Public Service.

Award categories for residential lighting are Best Lighting Effect, Best Spirit and Best Creativity.

The business entries fall into a variety of slots based on the number of lights ranging from 500 or more for small businesses to 5,000 or more for large hotels. Award categories for the business lighting contest include hotels/motels/RV Parks; restaurants; retail (large) and other large businesses; and stores/shops and other small businesses.

Shop local

On top of the above events, the chamber and Main Street will kick off a shop local campaign. And the Williams Grand Canyon News will get into the action with its annual Shop Williams First special pages. The News also includes a Flagstaff shopping guide. Area shops carry a wide array of items that will pleasantly surprise local patrons.

Pimi Bennett, crafts fair chair, and Patty Williams, parade chair, are the two contacts for the Dec. 8 events. Applications for both as well as the business and residential lighting contests are available at the City of Williams/Forest Service Visitors Center.

With the myriad of events planned, one element is still missing. Volunteers are needed to ensure Mountain Village Holiday’s success again this year. Committee meetings are held 4 p.m. each Wednesday at the chamber office. But even if you can’t attend, don’t hesitate to call and sign up for some aspect of this winter festival.

To volunteer or get more information about any of these events, call the chamber at 635-1418.

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