As we turn the page on the calendar today, the Christmas season takes center stage throughout the Upper Verde Valley.
The highlight of the week is the 56th annual Cottonwood Christmas Parade, which will begin its march down Main Street at 11 a.m. Saturday. This year’s parade theme is “Cottonwood Then and Now - the 50th Anniversary,” in tribute to the 50th anniversary of the city’s incorporation as a municipality.
The weekend’s fun also includes:
• The Cottonwood Community Band will present “Christmas For All Ages” on Sunday, Dec. 5, 3 p.m., at the Cottonwood Recreation Center, 150 S. Sixth St., Cottonwood, and is open to the public free of charge, although donations to support the band are graciously accepted. The Cottonwood Community Band, now in its 21st season, consists of middle school musicians through senior citizens from all over the Verde Valley
The Cottonwood Community Band will also play a free concert as part of the Cottonwood Chocolate Walk at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Cottonwood Civic Center, 805 N. Main St. in Old Town Cottonwood.
You can also hear the band as it plays prelude music and accompanies the Verde Valley Voices at their Holiday Concert on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. at the Verde Baptist Church, 102 S. Willard St. in Cottonwood. Prelude music begins at 2:15 p.m. For more information about the band, visit http://cottonwoodcommunityband.yolasite.com
• One of the biggest hits of the Cottonwood Christmas season is Emmanuel Fellowship’s Celebration of Christmas. Now in its 15th year, this Broadway-style Christmas production has a cast of over 100 people, a live orchestra, exciting original and traditional music, beautiful costumes, a winter wonderland with snow, life sized toy parade, exotic animals including camels, spectacular lighting, and special effects. Celebration of Christmas runs Friday, Dec. 3, through Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. nightly; with an additional matinee performance on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. Emmanuel Fellowship is located at 1580 East Fir Street in Cottonwood.
• Cottonwood’s annual Chocolate Lovers’ Walk takes place Saturday, Dec. 4, 4-8 p.m. Join in a special evening of Holiday lights, music and a bag full of homemade chocolates, presented by the Old Town Association of Cottonwood. Old Town Main Street merchants stay open late, and shops are full of the scents of hot cocoa, mint and Holiday cheer Music includes the Cottonwood Community Band playing in the Civic Center at 5 p.m. and the Verde Valley Voices singing at the Tree Lighting at 6 p.m., and then caroling through the streets. Lighting of the new Magic Light Christmas Tree will be at 6 p.m. with Mayor Diane Joens. For details and ticket purchase, please see oldtown.org or call (877) 928-4682. Tickets are also available for purchase in Old Town Cottonwood at the Pillsbury Wine Co., Coombs Countertops, The Manheim Gallery and at the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce.
• Jerome’s Light up the Mountain Celebration takes place Dec. 4. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. with the merchants of Jerome setting out lluminarias and lighting the streets by the flickering of candles. At 7 p.m., join town residents in the upper park to turn the switch on a beautiful display of holiday cheer. Throughout the evening, there will be hayrides. On this first Saturday of the month, Jerome Art Walk will also be in full swing, starting at 5 p.m., restaurants will be offering special treats and shops will be bustling with holiday shoppers.
• The 24th annual Made In Clarkdale Invitational Art Show will run from Dec. 3 through Dec. 12 in the Clark Memorial Clubhouse at Main and Ninth streets. All events are free and open to the public. It all begins Friday night with a Gala Opening from 6 to 9 p.m. The Gala will feature performances by the Janice Paul Quartet and the Blue Dragon Belly Dance troupe. Artists will be on hand to answer questions and talk about their artworks. Daily exhibits will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday Dec. 11, the exhibit will stay open until 7 p.m.
• Last but not least, you can experience old-time barbershop quartet music with Harmony On the Rocks Saturday, Dec. 4., 2 p.m., at the Old Town Center for the Arts, Fifth Street & Main in Old Town Cottonwood.
The Christmas season is obviously in full swing and no one does it better than Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Jerome.