With the COVID-19 public health crisis resurgent amidst the warmest weather ever recorded in Arizona, some may expect this Christmas to be just another disappointment capping off an unusual year.
While some cherished holiday events have been canceled because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, many more will still go on, providing much-needed sights and sounds to inspire a joyous season, nonetheless.
First — the bad news.
Event organizers have announced the following Valley traditions will not take place this year: APS Light Parade; Bearizona’s Wild Wonderland; Downtown Tempe’s Fantasy of Lights parade and boat parade; Hometown Christmas Parade; Lights of the World at Arizona State Fairgrounds; Phoenix Raceway’s ZoomTown Lights; and Rawhide’s Snowy Christmas.
The good news — though the options may be limited by comparison, many opportunities remain to establish holiday traditions, despite the cancellations. Here are two such opportunities.
Public events in Glendale this year did not escape the outbreak entirely, as city officials have announced the usual lineup of vendors and performances — which typically draws tens of thousands of strolling revelers to the downtown over the holidays for the Glendale Glitters festival — will be canceled.
As for the opening and closing ceremonies, live music, chocolate fountains and glowing hot-air balloon displays — that’s also a big nope.
But, thankfully, Glendale’s renowned light displays remain for those who wish to drive through or park to sample area restaurants and peruse the myriad knick-knack shops surrounding Murphy Park.
“The dazzling Glendale Glitters lights are up and ready to shine during this upcoming holiday season. We’re excited for everyone to come to downtown Glendale, walk around and enjoy our spectacular display of 1.7 million lights illuminating 16 blocks,” officials stated at the city’s website.
The streets around Glendale City Hall will be lit from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. starting tonight and running through Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2021.
Officials said they hope their enhanced Christmas light display will make up for the unavoidable changes this season.
“We’re excited to showcase great new lighting designs and features that will add extra magic to each evening,” they stated.
Learn more at glendaleaz.com.
For those with little ones, the Holiday Lights event at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale also will continue this year, though with some changes to promote public safety.
“Due to COVID-19 and public health recommendations, we have had to significantly modify the structure of this year’s event. There are several big changes to this year’s event that will provide a safe and socially distanced environment,” organizers stated at the event website. “Your trip to Holiday Lights may look different than it has in previous years, but we intend to create a safe and memorable experience for you and your family.”
Tickets will be sold first-come, first-served in limited one-hour blocks scheduled for 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. nightly, while rides will be limited to 50% capacity.
While the traditional Paradise & Pacific Railroad and Charros Carousel will circle their courses as per usual, the limited capacity will prevent long lines and allow attendees to get more out of the experience, according to organizers.
“The park will only be accessible to those who have purchased tickets during a specific one-hour block. Visitors will have an opportunity to ride the train and carousel as many times as they’d like,” they stated. “And while there may be a thing or two you miss this year, long lines won’t be one of them. With limited ticket sales nightly, the lines will be much shorter and will allow for multiple train or carousel rides.”
Opening night festivities Friday, Nov. 27, will feature the annual tree-lighting ceremony with Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane; the event runs nightly through Thursday, Jan. 3, at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, 7301 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale.
There will be no Holiday Lights on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve.
Admission is $15 per person; children age 2 and under are free.
Learn more at therailroadpark.com/holidaylights.