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Thu, April 18

Parade, Courthouse Lighting to brighten downtown Prescott

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Yavapai County 4H cloggers dance during last year’s Christmas Parade in downtown Prescott.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Yavapai County 4H cloggers dance during last year’s Christmas Parade in downtown Prescott.

PRESCOTT - From the hundreds of children singing Christmas carols on the courthouse stairs to nostalgic scenes on the parade floats, downtown Prescott will offer the quintessential Christmas setting this weekend.

Two traditional events - the Christmas Parade and the Courthouse Lighting - have long highlighted Prescott's role as "Arizona Christmas City." Both events will take place on Saturday.

The day will kick off with the 1 p.m. parade, which this year will include 89 entries, ranging from floats to bands to walking groups.

Featuring the theme "Memories of Christmas Past," the 29th annual Christmas Parade will tie in with the state's upcoming centennial.

Prescott Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer David Maurer said many of the entries will emphasize traditions and memories from the community's earlier decades.

For instance: Washington Traditional School's entry will include multiple generations of Washington students marching in the attire of their school days; the Prescott United Methodist Church will remember Christmas Eve 1911 with period costumes and carols of the day; and the Prescott Victorian Society will share the history of the Christmas tree.

The parade will start at Cortez and Willis, and will proceed along Cortez, Goodwin and Montezuma. It usually takes about an hour and a half for all of the entries to circle the plaza area.

Along with the dozens of floats and walking entries, seven bands also will participate, including the Prescott High School Pride of Prescott Band; the Bradshaw Mountain Marching Band; the Granite Mountain Middle School Grizzly Band; the Prescott Mile High Middle School Band; the Foothills Falcon Band; the Franklin Falcon Band; and the Pandemonium Steel Drum Band, which last year won the grand prize award.

Popular Arizona folk singer, educator, lecturer, and stage performer Marshal Trimble will serve as the grand marshal for this year's parade.

After the excitement of the parade clears, downtown will move into its other long-running holiday tradition - the Courthouse Lighting.

Maurer noted that parade attendees often move their lawn chairs directly from their place along the parade route to the courthouse plaza. To entertain them during the interim, two musical groups will be on hand: the Worth Waiting 4 women's quartet at 5 p.m.; and the Prescott High School Show Choir at about 5:20 p.m.

Beginning at 6 p.m. on the courthouse plaza, the 57th annual lighting event will feature a retelling of the story of the first Christmas by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, along with Christmas music from local choirs.

Matt Kiesling, director of Prescott High School's chorale program, has directed the choir for the past half-dozen years, and expects as many as 600 or 700 children to participate.

"It is come one, come all," Kiesling said of the event that regularly draws students from all of the local schools and many out-of-town schools as well.

"All of the teachers in all of Yavapai County are invited to bring their students," Kiesling said, adding that the event also is open to students of charter schools and those who are home-schooled.

The program includes renditions of traditional Christmas carols.

The night will end with the main event - the illumination of the thousands of lights that adorn the courthouse and the trees surrounding it.

In keeping with the Arizona Centennial theme, this year's lighting will more than double the number of lit trees to a total of 100 - up from the 35 to 37 decorated trees of recent years.

Although attendance at the two events depends largely on the weather, Maurer estimates that about 10,000 people usually attend the parade, while about 7,500 attend the lighting.

After Saturday night's official lighting, the courthouse decorations will be on every night from 5:30 p.m. to midnight until Martin Luther King Day weekend in mid-January.

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