Last week, we were pleased to learn that Williams, Arizona has been named one of "10 great places to catch up with Santa" in the Nov. 28 edition of USA Today. Teresa Plowright, mother of three and editor of About.com's Family Vacations (travelwithkids.about.com), talked with Kathy Baruffi of USA Today about her favorite places to visit St. Nick. Of 10 destinations, Williams was the first listing. A prominent photo of Williams resident Rusty Rogers portraying Santa on the Polar Express accompanied the article. This type of coverage is priceless.
How did our small city pop up on national radar? We can thank Grand Canyon Railway's® Polar Express. Apparently Plowright experienced a ride on the Polar and enjoyed it so much it became a pleasant memory to share with many. She is definitely not the first to enjoy this memorable ride to the North Pole. Word about GCR's winter attraction has spread like wildfire.
This is the eighth year the increasingly popular Polar Express has returned to Williams. In it's first year, 5,600 passengers enjoyed a ride on the Polar. This year, 75,000 passengers are expected to ride the rails with Santa. We appreciate the Polar's passengers. Polar passengers do more in Williams besides riding the train - they eat at our restaurants, shop our local businesses and some remain in our area for at least one night.
Thanks to the efforts of the Magic of Christmas in Williams Committee, city of Williams staff and the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce, we are able to portray Williams as "Christmastown" to those that visit during the holiday season. Hats off also to the Williams Lions Club and Arizona Public Service for assuring the tree on High School Hill is lit the first week of December every year. Thanks to volunteers, the original Christmas tree's tradition has continued for at least 50 years. If you haven't decorated your home or business yet, it's not too late to get into the spirit of the season. It doesn't take a lot of money or time to display lights. And, once the lights are up, you will enjoy them, too.
Just 10 years ago, the arrival of winter signified the onset of a sleepy town. Not much was going on, and wintertime was difficult financially for many. Now we enjoy visitors throughout the year, thanks to the efforts of business owners who have cleaned up downtown. The Polar Express is the icing on the cake. It is our hope that this trend continues. We can't wait to see Williams in 2013, 2018 and beyond. The possibilities are endless.