Sun, Feb. 23

Editorial: Christmas season arrives with a bang this weekend

Do we know how to kick off the Christmas season or what?

Whether it’s the Made in Clarkdale opening, the Cottonwood Christmas Parade, the Old Town Chocolate Walk or Jerome’s Polar Express, this is the weekend sure to inspire the yuletide spirit even in Ol’ Scrooge himself.

The weekend of holiday fun begins Friday with the 23rd annual Made In Clarkdale art show at the historic Clark Memorial Clubhouse. Featuring artwork by people who live or work in Clarkdale, MIC is a highly popular event that is looked forward to all year. The opening night gala, on Friday, Dec. 4, from 6 to 9 p.m., features live jazz from the Janice Paul Quartet and the Blue Dragon belly-dancing troupe in performance.

On the same night up the hill in Jerome, beginning at 6 p.m., Santa makes his first stop of the season in Jerome’s Spook Hall, as the Jerome Chamber of Commerce presents the annual Polar Express Party. Children of all ages will be delighted by the reading of this charming book, accompanied by letters written to Santa, the creation of a Christmas ornament and Gisele’s delicious chocolate chip cookies and cocoa. Wear pajamas and expect some great Christmas excitement.

Saturday, the 55th annual Cottonwood Christmas Parade rolls down Main Street beginning at 11 a.m. with an “Old Fashion Christmas.” It’s best to stake out your territory early, set up a lawn chair and enjoy the show. The parade kicks off a full day of fun at the Cottonwood Civic Center with the Cottonwood Community Band performing at 5 p.m. The Cottonwood Elementary School choir will perform at 5:30 p.m. and at 6 p.m. the Verde Valley Voices accompany the Christmas Tree lighting. Caroling continues into the evening with the Verde Valley Voices. After the Chocolate Walk, enjoy “Flying at Night” at 8 p.m. at the nearby Old Town Center for the Arts.

Also on Saturday night in Jerome will be the annual lighting of the luminaria throughout the mile-high town. Start with the First Saturday Art Walk 5-8 p.m., with 26 studios and galleries open for your perusal after dark. “Light up the Mountain” in the upper park begins at 6 p.m. with the lighting of the town Christmas tree, carolers singing and shops welcoming visitors with holiday cheer. The fun continues until 9 p.m.

The weekend of Christmas cheer concludes Sunday, 3 p.m., with the Cottonwood Community Band, under the direction of Julie Smith, presenting its annual holiday concert at 3 p.m. at the Mingus Union High School Auditorium. The concert is free and open to the public.

The Christmas season obviously is in full swing and no one does the holidays better than the Verde Valley.

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