Column: Top 5 things to do with your kids before Christmas

'Raising Prescott'

From neighborhood houses covered in highly thought-out rooftop light extravaganzas, to local businesses decorating their front windows, to a downtown courthouse decking the halls with boughs of holly, Christmas is undoubtedly here in Prescott.

With local tree reveals, Christmas parades and town square lightings already past, don’t fret, there’s still plenty to do with your kids before Christmas. After all, there’s only 13 days left!

Although some of this involves travel, here’s my Top 5 things to do before Christmas Day:

NO. 5: PHOENIX ZOO LIGHTS

If you haven’t taken the family south for a trip to the Phoenix Zoo, why not visit and experience one of the most spectacular light displays in the state for Christmas.

The Phoenix Zoo goes all out, using millions of lights to decorate a three-story tree and more. There are lakeside music-in-motion shows, carousel and camel rides and snow falls nightly after dark (it’s fake, but hey, it’s still cool).

And if you can’t make it down before Christmas, the lights stay up until Jan. 14.

NO. 4: WHITE CHRISTMAS

Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas: The Musical,” is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15 to 17, with a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday at the Yavapai Performing Arts Center.

The show features students, faculty and community members in starring roles, plus a live pit orchestra for the entire family to enjoy.

NO. 3: NORTH POLE EXPERIENCE

In what their website calls a “Christmas adventure of a lifetime,” the North Pole Experience in Flagstaff takes families on a trolley ride through a magic portal to Santa’s massive workshop in the middle of the forest.

At Santa’s workshop, kids and their parents are treated to a hands-on experience, working side-by-side with elves to build toys for Christmas Eve delivery.

You’ll get to enjoy cookies at Mrs. Claus’ bakery, visit Santa’s mailroom to leave that ever-so-important list and see the sleigh up close and personal.

The entire experience lasts about an hour and a half, and is well worth it.

NO. 2: CHRISTMAS ACTIVITY

Our community isn’t short of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day activities for the family, and some may even provide volunteer opportunities, because it’s a great time of year to teach children how to give back.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church has their annual Christmas meal, which is their gift to the community. Those interested can attend the Christmas Day event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Luke’s on Highway 89 and Ruger Rd. in Prescott.

Another family event is the candlelight services at Heights Church in Prescott, where the family can participate in a hayride featuring a light show, work on crafts for all ages and even a Christmas play. The event takes place Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 23 and 24, from 4 to 8:30 p.m.

Feel free to contact your church for events they may be putting on this Christmas. You never know, they may need volunteers!

NO. 1: THE POLAR EXPRESS

My favorite thing to do with my kids is take them north to Williams for the Grand Canyon Railway’s “Polar Express” adventure.

Train workers dress up as elves, deliver cookies and hot cocoa all while the train chugs along the railway to the north pole when Santa boards each car for a personal visit. The kids even receive a bell, just like the movie.

I hope this list will give you a few ideas. My family and I wish each of you a Merry Christmas!

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier, the Prescott Valley Tribune and the Chino Valley Review. Follow him on Twitter at @SportsWriter52 or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email bbergner@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.