Williams chamber heads into new year with rebranding campaign
Gearing up for Arizona's Centennial celebration
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - While most of us are enjoying the first few days of 2012, Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Gioia Goodrum continues to work diligently to plan Williams' portion of Arizona's Centennial celebration scheduled for Feb. 14. Visitors and residents can expect a full day celebrating the Centennial with $7.50 rides on Grand Canyon Railway's (GCR) coach class, a Sweetheart Dinner at Sultana and, at the end of the day, fireworks.
The Arizona Centennial Train will depart the Williams Depot at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 14 to the Grand Canyon pulled by vintage steam locomotive 4960. In honor of this historic occasion, GCR is offering round-trip coach class tickets for $7.50 per person - the same cost as in 1912. Coach seating will be in the fully refurbished historic Harriman-style coaches. Also, the Winslow Harvey Girls and the Bill Williams Mountain Men will be onboard to provide narrative information and stories from Arizona's history.
GCR made its first passenger journey to the Grand Canyon in 1901. Notable passengers have included U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower as well as naturalist John Muir. The railroad not only catered to the visitor but was also an instrumental force in the development of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. All supplies used in the construction of Grand Canyon Village came to northern Arizona aboard the train, which also brought all fresh water to the Grand Canyon until 1926.
A Centennial Sweetheart Dinner begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Sultana Theater, 309 W. Route 66. Catered by Camp Civitan, the dinner will feature smoked prime rib or stuffed pork loin with all the trimmings, appetizers and a dessert bar. Cataract Creek Gang will provide entertainment. The cost is $50 per person or $100 per couple.
"The Sweetheart Dinner is going to be sold out," Goodrum said. "The Centennial is really a nice event and is sanctioned by Arizona Centennial. I am excited. This event will kick off the 2012 season of events."
Seating is limited to 100 and reservations are going fast. To reserve your seat at the Centennial Sweetheart Dinner, contact the chamber of commerce at (928) 635-1418. Book Centennial GCR tickets for Feb. 14 train by calling 1-800-THE-TRAIN or visit thetrain.com.
Many events are planned for 2012, according to Goodrum. Plans will be finalized once an events coordinator is hired, which Goodrum hopes will happen by February. In the meantime, chamber officials are pleased with Mountain Village Holiday events, which concludes Saturday with the final run of GCR's Polar Express. Nearly 95,000 have boarded the Polar in 2011.
"Mountain Village Holiday was fabulous," said Goodrum. "Many people have said this is the best the city has looked in a long time. Businesses were decorated and the city sparkled. Grand Canyon Railway helped immensely and Jim Winbourn decorated the city from east to west, including the archway on Grand Canyon Boulevard."
The chamber has hired Tom Johnson, a Sedona photographer, to capture one year's worth of photographs, which will be used to promote Williams at travel shows.
"Tom will be here at least once a month all year gathering high quality, high resolution photos that will be used to market Williams at travel shows," said Goodrum. "Williams has changed. In addition to Grand Canyon Railway and the Deer Farm, which have both been here a long time, we now have Bearizona and many new businesses."
A public relations firm has also been hired to rebrand Williams. A full-page ad promoting the town appears in American Cowboy's Travel West 2012 Guide.
"We are right in the center of the magazine," said Goodrum.
Residents and visitors can expect numerous events throughout 2012 including four parades - Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Mountain Village Holiday; several rodeos including Cowpunchers, Labor Day Rodeo and Christian barrel races; Memorial Day 4-H Barbecue; Small Town Fourth of July celebration; Cool Country Cruise-In; Arizona State HOG Rally; Arizona Cowboy Shooters Association's Railhead Shoot; Lions Club 10K run; Habitat for Humanity Golf Tournament; and, Taste of Williams.
"More than 300 attended Taste of Williams last fall and I expect at least that many in 2012. It will likely be at Bearizona again," Goodrum said.
For more information on events in Williams, contact chamber staff at (928) 635-1418.