Thousands of Douglas residents lined G Avenue Saturday for the annual City of Douglas Christmas Light Parade which officially kicks off the holiday season.

Prior to the parade, there was a tree lighting ceremony at City Hall.

This year’s ceremony was dedicated to all of Douglas’ merchants who, for those in attendance, were recognized by Mayor Robert Uribe, prior to the tree being lit.

“As we kick off the holiday season, I ask everyone to remember the small businesses, our local merchants,” he said. “This is a wonderful time to focus on family and togetherness. But far too often those moments are outshined by a rush to the big stores and online shopping.”

The mayor said, every business, regardless of size, is vital to any economy and Douglas is no exception.

“Dreams do not often materialize so easily,” he said. “It takes persistence, determination, and the ability to bounce back quickly from a market that is constantly changing. It is our responsibility as a community to support (these local businesses).”

The mayor added, seeing the crowd of people at the tree lighting is what makes Douglas so special.

The presentation of flags was done by the Douglas Police Department Honor Guard, and the National Anthem was sung Miss Douglas Days, Vianca Armenta.

There were live performances by Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson, the Cochise College Dance Club, and the DUSD exchange teachers, who did a song and dance performance.

Guests enjoyed a night of free popcorn, hot chocolate and photos with Micky and Minnie Mouse.

The event was sponsored in part by the City of Douglas, APS, and Freeport McMoRan.

The Christmas Light Parade followed. The theme this year was “A one in a Minion Christmas.” It had 47 entries and lasted just under an hour.

First place in the float competition went to BB Danceur Academy. Second place, DUSD #27/Joe Carlson, and third place, Community Health Associates.

The City of Douglas invites the community to their next holiday event, Douglas on Ice, to be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, on G Avenue, between 10th and 11th Street. For more information visit the City of Douglas website www.DouglasAz.gov.