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Make it a Downtown Holiday Daytrip with the Parade of Lights on December 17th!

by James J. Jefferies

Christmas can be a stressful time. What do the kids want this year? Poké-WHAT? Many times, it is all too easy to get caught up in the rat race and we forget precisely what it is truly supposed to be about.

The people you love. Enjoying a happy, creative display of lights and holiday cheer. Long after the wrapping paper is wadded up en masse and the new toys become boring to the boys and girls… we remember the little moments when we basked in the company of one another. These are the memories that linger long into adulthood, until we’re able to forge new ones with our own offspring.

For 22 years now, the Downtown Parade of Lights and Festival has been a Tucson tradition. It’s really as simple as holiday celebrations get, but it’s an electric feeling as people begin to gather along the avenue in anticipation of the Parade, all awaiting that moment when the floats begin to roll down the street and everyone is simply plugged into the shared experience.

The best thing of all is that you can make an entire day of it! Keep in mind that while Downtown, there are more than 140 local merchants offering great holiday shopping and dining options, and parking is plentiful!

Let’s run down the schedule for the big day…

9:00am-Noon: Our third and final Winter Snowflake Workshop will be at Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market at 11 S. 6th Ave! Local artist Carrie Levesque will impart her paper-cutting magic and even a total novice can come away with something beautiful.

10:00am-6:00pm: The Miracle on Congress St. continues at 272 E. Congress Street! If you haven’t visited yet, you absolutely owe it to yourself to treat the family to a winter wonderland right in the middle of Downtown Tucson! You can take photos with Santa Claus, enjoy snacks, beverages and hot cocoa, and yes… there are puppies to pet. Puppies! Proceeds benefit The Humane Society of Southern Arizona!

Noon-4:00pm: Holiday Express with Santa at the Historic Depot at 414 N. Toole Avenue is another chance for your wee one to get a photo with Santa! You can also climb aboard Steam Locomotive 1673, receive goodies from Amtrak, view the railroad art exhibit, enjoy an arts and crafts festival, and more.

4:00pm-8:00pm: Downtown Holiday Festival at Armory Park, 220 S. 6th Ave! Enjoy live entertainment, local food vendors, games, children’s activities, and a Wellness Area presented by Carondelet St. Mary’s!

4:00pm-8:00pm: Stone Avenue Fiesta on Stone between Broadway and Corral Streets! More food vendors, music, and a first-time Spanish language emcee station presented by Azteca TV!

5:00pm-8:00pm: Prince Chapel AME Church Activities & Parking at 602 S. Stone Ave. Parking is $10, but there are also hot dogs, chili dogs, and more for sale, all benefiting the Church!

5:00pm-10:00pm: Love Local Parade of Lights Viewing Party at the Downtown Clifton Hotel! Tickets are $20 for adults, $8 for kids, and include bleacher seating for the Parade, admittance to a private viewing patio, two drinks and light appetizers! Non-alcoholic beverages are also available, and the proceeds benefit Local First Arizona.

5:30pm-6:00pm: Mayor’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Armory Park, 220 S. 6th Ave! Enjoy a sing-a-long with Mayor Rothschild and gaze in absolute awe at our massive new Christmas tree!

6:30pm-8:00pm: The Carondelet St. Mary’s 22nd Annual Parade of Lights, presented by Cox. More than 70 entries and 2,000 participants bringing musical performances, Star Wars characters, you name it, it will be there and ablaze with light!