SIERRA VISTA — Christmas kick-off events were in full-swing in Sierra Vista and surrounding communities on Saturday, with plenty of activities to get everyone in the Christmas spirit. Locally, festivities started with the annual Santa Fly-In, followed by the Palominas Unorganized Christmas Parade and culminated with the 61st annual light parade down Fry Boulevard.

Santa Fly-In

Seven-year-old Fayth Davis and her five-year-old sister Zoey were first in a long line of youngsters waiting to see Santa and Mrs. Claus at C-A-L Ranch on Saturday.

Transported to the C-A-L Ranch parking lot by an Air Evac helicopter to about 400 wide-eyed, cheering children, Mr. and Mrs. Claus were greeted with hugs and an earful of wish lists.

“We got here early and were in line first,” announced Fayth, who wants a “real cell phone” for Christmas. “And my second thing is a basketball hoop with a real basketball. I play basketball with my friend Nick and I always beat him,” she added.

Younger sister, Zoey, is asking Santa for a toy microwave oven.

“I can’t have a real microwave because I might burn myself,” she said. “So I told Santa I want a toy microwave for Christmas.”

The two girls were at the annual Santa Fly-In with their parents Christina and Jonathan Davis, with the family arriving a little before 7:45 for the 9 a.m. helicopter landing.

“We love this event,” Christina said. “It puts a smile on the children’s faces. They love watching the helicopter land and they get to see Santa.”

The annual Santa Fly-In, organized by the Sierra Vista Area Chamber of Commerce, draws hundreds of youngsters and their parents every year.

Tovah Angelino brought her daughter and two other children to watch Santa’s arrival.

“I think it’s wonderful that the community does this for the kids,” Angelino said. “The children love it.”

Twin sisters Nellie and Rosie Campbell, 8, marveled at the helicopter, where they could see Santa waving to the crowd as the helicopter circled overhead.

“Last year, we didn’t get here in time to see the helicopter land, so we came early this time,” Nellie said. “It’s really loud, but I like it.”

Alicia Wilson-Huff, owner of Candy World, one of the event sponsors, said she really enjoys watching the children’s faces as the helicopter lands.

“This is a great family event and we’re a very proud sponsor every year,” she said.

Palominas Unorganized Christmas Parade

Folks lined Palominas Road for the community’s 35th (more-or-less) annual unorganized parade.

“We’re so unorganized, we’re not even sure exactly when the parade started, but we think it was about 35 years ago,” said parade coordinator Susan Ostrander. “There’s no registration, no entry fees or sign up sheets. It’s held the first Saturday in December at 10 in the morning, and people who want to participate simply show up.”

Described by locals as a “fun portrayal of rural Arizona,” with its lineup of classic cars, marching bands, 4-H clubs, mounted units and church groups, the parade typically draws between 35 and 40 entries.

Dogs, goats, horses and steers decked in colorful Christmas attire delight the crowd as they stroll the parade route with owners in tow.

Ten members of the Tombstone High School JROTC mounted color guard left their flags and sabers at home for this parade, opting instead to decorate horses as reindeer and riders as elves.

The Palominas School District Band played “Jingle Bell Rock,” while organizations like St. Vincent de Paul Society, Echoing Hope Ranch, San Pedro Spirits 4-H Club and other youth groups tossed candy to the crowd.

“I live in Huachuca City and I was here to see my daughter (Deanna), who was on the Echoing Hope Ranch float,” said David Equils. “This is the first time I’ve seen this parade, and it was a lot of fun. It was small but very nice. I plan to attend the light parade in Sierra Vista tonight and the Tombstone light parade next weekend because Echoing Hope is putting their float in those parades too. I think this is a great way to celebrate the Christmas season.”

Eric Jensen and his mother, Barbar Jensen, said they enjoy the parade every year.

“My granddaughter, Caelan Jensen is in the Palominas District Band, so we’re here to see her. The organizers do this same impromptu parade for Fourth of July, too.”

The half-mile parade starts in front of the Palominas Fire Station on Palominas Road in Hereford and ends where Palominas Road intersects with State Route 92.

Following the parade, the Church of Palominas on State Route 92 invites attendees to its Winter Fun Fest where they provide cookies and hot chocolate, along with craft activities for kids and prizes.

Sierra Vista 61st Annual Light Parade

With its 78 entries and “All American Christmas” theme, this year’s annual light parade dazzled the crowd with its patriotic red, white and blue sparkle.

The annual parade is organized by the Sierra Vista Area Chamber of Commerce, with backing from a list of sponsors.

“This is the longest running Christmas parade in Arizona, and we’re always thrilled by the support our parade receives from the community and our sponsors,” said Melany Edwards-Barton, interim chief executive officer for the Sierra Vista Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our All American Christmas theme was so beautifully represented and the patriotic spirit of this community shined brightly through our lineup of creative entries.

Edwards-Barton said the chamber is always thrilled by the way the community comes out in full force every year to make the parade such a special event.

Entries are judged by a panel of seven judges with awards presented in the following categories:

Chamber Award — best overall entry

Lawley Automotive Group — excellence in presenting lights, the best and brightest use of lights

Mayor’s Award — best creative concept and design in presenting the parade theme

School’s Award

Nonprofits and Churches

First responders Award

(Chamber) Member Award

Nonmember Award

Parade sponsors include the following: Cox Communications; Lawley Automotive Group; The City of Sierra Vista; Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative; Teleperformance; Herald/Review Media.

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