Originally Published: December 6, 2017 6:02 a.m.
Though there’s a lot of time and difficulty spent in putting together and organizing Acker Night year after year, seeing it come together makes it all worth it, said J. S. Acker Music Park Association President Scott Currey.
“The night it happens, it’s magic and it’s really a hometown event,” Currey said. “There’s not another city in the United States that we’re aware of, and we’ve tried to check, that does this. It’s a very unique night.”
Held Friday, Dec. 8, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., with the opening ceremony at 5 p.m., there’s nearly 130 businesses showcasing more than 140 groups this year, he said. If each group averages four people that means there’s more than 650 performers coming to play, Currey said.
The opening ceremony will see Santa and Mrs. Claus singing a couple songs, the Prescott High School choir performing and people from three years past leading everyone in the Hallelujah chorus with a theater organ behind the stage, he said.
New this year is a giant snow globe in the vacant lot next to the Prescott Chamber of Commerce at Goodwin Street and Montezuma Street that will be a photo opportunity, Currey said. Other photo opportunities are Santa’s tent on Gurley Street along with the Wells Fargo Stage Coach on Cortez Street where there will also be dance groups and Calvary Chapel providing hot chocolate, he said. Also on Gurley Street will be Starbucks with hot chocolate and coffee and Wildflower Bread Company selling slices of pie for a $1 donation with all the proceeds going to the J. S. Acker Music Park Association, Currey said.
The parking situation is a little bit better this year too as Prescott Mile High Middle School has allowed for parking in the area around the football field, he said. That can fit about 100 cars easy, Currey said.
“They can park and walk out the gate right out into Goodwin and they’re right in the midst of Acker Night,” he said. “I don’t know of another parking area, except the parking garage, that’ll accommodate that many cars that you can just park and then walk right in and you’re at acker.”
There’s also parking opportunities in the parking lot of Sprouts that has a musical group this year too, Currey said. Springhill Suites and AAA do to, he said.
This year’s Acker Night is so spread out this year that no matter where someone parks on the outskirts of town, when they walk in, they’re walking into Acker, Currey said.
“Wherever you park as you’re walking in, you’re going to hear music and see groups. I can’t think of something we don’t have,” he said. “We’ve had the belly dancers for quite a few years, we have bluegrass, we have country, we have rock and roll, we have blues. We even have fire dancers.”
One of this year’s performers is Road One South, which is putting on their last Acker performance at the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center, 117 W. Gurley St, according to a news release from drummer Dwight D’Evelyn.
After five straight years of shows at the Elks Theater highlighting solo and joint performances with young Prescott area musicians, the band is passing the torch, D’Evelyn wrote. They’ll be joined by local bluegrass band Sugar and the Mint.
“Last year we set a record for donations at the Elks Theatre and are honored by the community support for Acker Scholarships,” the release states. “Past performances have featured several individual young players and singers as well as members of the Prescott High School horn section. Last year the band showcased the incredible Bradshaw Mountain High School’s 32-member Choral Union, performing with and without the band. Acker monies have touched all these programs.”
At each location, there’s an Acker tip bag which is how the association is able to give back, Currey said. J. S. Acker’s goal was to introduce people to downtown businesses and encourage children’s music and this year, the association was able to give 52 scholarships for private lessons and $3,500 to each school district for their music programs, he said. It would be nice for donations to hit the $15,000 mark so the association can really help with scholarships, Currey said.
For the 15th straight year, Fancy That!, will have a musician in its store and for the third straight year, owner Sara Murray is selling Acker night scarves, according to a news release from Murray. She’s ordered 1,000 tartan plaid scarves which will sell for $10 each and all the money will go the Acker scholarships.
“Her vision again is to have everyone wandering around downtown wearing the same plaid scarf showing they have supported the Acker event,” the release stated. “Last year we had a great response to the fund-raising event, we sold out in an hour and a half 300 scarves and collected (more than) $3,000. So this year we have ordered more scarves. Again we hope to see people sporting their last year scarves as well as wanting to donate again to have a 2017 scarf.”
Scarves will go on sale at noon on Friday at both Fancy That!, 124 S. Granite St., and Fancy That! Home & Holiday Store, 109 S. Granite St.
Acker night programs are available at www.ackernight.com and hard copies will be at Santa’s tent and participating stores.