WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Christmas is coming early in Williams, with several of the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce's Mountain Village Holiday events happening this weekend.
Mountain Village Holiday has been a highlight in Williams for about nine years, with the Chamber organizing it for four years.
A holiday craft fair takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. at the Sultana Theater.
The Parade of Lights starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday along Route 66 and is followed by the tree lighting. The Forest Service, APS, the Grand Canyon Railway and the city collaborate to bring and light the 40-foot tree on Second Street.
"It's quite magnificent," said Gioia Goodrum, CEO of the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce. "We all work together to make that tree sparkle."
Another aspect of Mountain Village Holiday is the lighting contest. This year's theme is "T'was the Night Before Christmas..."
Participating businesses are required to use a minimum of 1,000 lights and will be judged on best depiction of the theme for each category of business. Participating residences must use at least 500 lights and will be judged on best lighting effect, best creativity and best depiction of the theme.
"We want to welcome people to town," Goodrum said. "The more lights, the more enchanting it is and the more people will go home and say, 'You've got to see Williams.'"
Another highlight of Mountain Village Holiday is the Polar Express, which opened Nov. 9. A total of 2,800 people rode the train in its first weekend. An additional 1,300 riders boarded the charity train.
"We're overall still on pace to meet last year's totals," said Stephen Pelligrini, public relations manager for the Grand Canyon Railway.
"(The Polar Express) really does make Williams a destination town," Pelligrini said, adding that some families have made the Polar Express an annual tradition.
But the festivities aren't just for the tourists.
"Mountain Village Holiday is a celebration for our community," Goodrum said. "It's as much for our community as it is for the visitors."
More information about Mountain Village Holiday is available by calling the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce at (928) 635-1418.