Change coming for Christmas
Railway assumes city holiday tree selection and decoration duties
WILLIAMS - While it may seem that summer was just last week, officials in Williams are already taking advantage of the fall season to prepare for the 2010 Mountain Village Holiday celebration, only a month and a half away.
The theme for this year's holiday gala, according to organizers with the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce, is "Home for the Holidays." A parade of lights will be held Nov. 27 as part of the celebration, followed immediately by the lighting of the city's Christmas tree on the corner of Second Street and Route 66. The parade is slated to begin at 7 p.m. Chamber of Commerce officials are currently seeking support from the community in the form of sponsorships for the annual Christmas event.
Sue Atkinson, event coordinator for the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce, said officials with the Grand Canyon Railway would handle all aspects of the city's holiday tree this year. The tree is expected to be around 40-feet tall.
"The Grand Canyon Railway, their sponsorship this year, is handling the town Christmas tree," Atkinson said. "They will be handling every facet of the tree this year. They will be decorating it this year. We're thrilled that, as the presenting sponsor, they will be doing the town Christmas tree this year."
Members of the Christmas Committee, a non-profit 501-C (6) organization run entirely by the efforts of volunteers, are involved in a number of Mountain Village holiday events, including the business and residential lighting contests, business decorating performed by students at the Williams Elementary Middle School, the miniature village at the east end of Williams, decorations to the Gateway Arch, lighting of Monument Park and more.
"I am hoping for just as many entries if not more. Last year we had over 35 entries," Atkinson said. "We are just excited about this year and the new things that are going to be happening. Of course we are continuing with some of the traditions that we have always done. We are continuing with the lighting contest to help get the town decorated and greet all the visitors and let them know that we are a hometown Christmas community. This year we are looking at doing more decorations down at the east end and decorating the arch this year. It will be lit up and decorated with some beautiful wreaths."
The miniature village, once located at the east end of Williams, moved to the corner of Railroad Avenue and Grand Canyon Boulevard last year. It will remain in that location this year, Atkinson said.
"It's a great location for people to actually have their pictures taken with the facades. We saw a lot of that last year. We will be working with Inspirations, and Sue Tamulevich, to do it this year," Atkinson said. "We will offer it to any business this year that would like to purchase a façade. The cost for that is $200. They would just need to provide us with a photograph of their building and then the kids from Inspirations will paint that for us. It's open to residents as well."
With over 90,000 visitors expected to ride the Polar Express this holiday season, officials with the Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce are asking that business owners decorate their businesses or storefronts for the holiday season. Chamber officials are offering a $20 credit through Arizona Public Service (APS) as incentive for business owners to take part in the holiday celebration, as well as recognition in the Williams-Grand Canyon News and at a chamber of commerce mixer on Dec. 10. Members of the Williams High School National Honor Society of the Future Business Leaders of America perform optional judging for the lighting contest. This year's annual run of the Polar Express is slated to get under way Nov. 12. Trains bound for the newly renovated North Pole leave at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. On Christmas Eve, special gifts from Santa are offered that are not offered on any other Polar excursion. Santa Claus boards each trip of the Polar Express from the North Pole and rides back with the children to the Grand Canyon Railway Depot. Special discounts, including half-off fares, are also being offered as part of the 2010 Polar Express season.
More information on the Polar Express can be found online at www.thetrain.com. More information on sponsorships for Mountain Village Holiday can be found online at www.williamschamber.com or by calling (928) 635-0273.
"Sponsorships are available. They are on many different levels," Atkinson said. "They run from $100 on up, if people would like to help the Christmas committee in decorating the town for the holidays. It always makes such an impression on the people who visit the town."
Sponsorship forms are available at the chamber and visitor center. Parade applications are also available.