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Experience Enchanted Christmas

The Enchanted Christmas Tour of Lights from 2016 at the Prescott Gateway Mall.(Courier file)

The Enchanted Christmas Tour of Lights from 2016 at the Prescott Gateway Mall.(Courier file)

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Matt Brassard and Marco Espitia are the brains and brawn behind The Enchanted Christmas Tour of Lights that opens, today, Nov. 29 and runs through Dec. 30, 2019 at the Prescott Gateway Mall.(Courier)

Santa’s hardest working elves, Matt Brassard and Marco Espitia of M&M Entertainment & Productions have brought the Enchanted Christmas Tour of Lights back to the Prescott Gateway Mall, doubling it in size.

“It’s our largest Enchanted ever,” Espitia said. “When we returned to the mall, we wanted to come back with a bang and make it our biggest and best Enchanted we’ve ever done.”

Last year’s attraction was last-minute and a lot smaller than what it normally is, Brassard said. People definitely noticed, he said. Being back in the mall, though, is nice because it’s not just a one-stop shop, Espitia said. It benefits the mall and its stores and restaurants because people can go to Enchanted Christmas, get something to eat and go shopping, he said.

The attraction is open from Friday, Nov. 29, to Monday, Dec. 30. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, 2 to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and noon to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It’s closed Tuesday. Several rooms have been added this year, and while the two of them don’t want to give it all away, Brassard did say that the mansion has been brought back. A lot of people missed it, he said.

Once all is said and done, there will be close to one million lights shining in the attraction, Espitia said. It’s not just going and looking at lights though, Brassard said. It’s a whole experience that includes the scenes, sounds and smells, he said.

People often ask the two of them how Enchanted Christmas Tour of Lights got started, Brassard said. At first, it was put up inside a home but it became pretty large, he said. One year they decided to make use of the hard work they put into Scream Factor and instead of tearing it down, turned it into the attraction, Brassard said. Since then it’s become a family event and one of the stops for Arizona’s Christmas City, he said.

General admission is $5 and children 5 and younger are free. The attraction will also benefit the Yavapai Food Bank. Anyone who brings in a can of food will receive $1 off admission. Collections of canned food and toys will be distributed and donated locally in Yavapai County. More than 19 tons of canned food for the organization and thousands of toys were collected last year.

Work and preparations for Enchanted Christmas Indoor Tour of Lights starts as soon as the day after Black Friday and the minute the two of them turn on the lights, Espitia said. When kids come out, they make recommendations for what to include next year, he said. A lot of people don’t’ recognize the work that goes into putting the attraction up, Brassard said.

“We put our blood, sweat and tears into this,” he said. “We are here 16 hour days sometimes. We do it because we enjoy it. We love this community.”

What makes it all worth it in the end is seeing the enjoyment and emotions people have when they go through it, Brassard said. Kids come out super excited and adults will come out with tears in their eyes, he said. Often, people will come in not in the Christmas spirit and they come out feeling it, Brassard said.

Espitia also said he enjoys seeing the emotion, joy and relief people have going through the attraction and being able to get away from the world for one little moment. Knowing that they are taking and creating something and touching someone’s heart with it is what it’s all about, he said.

“That’s what our ultimate joy is,” Espitia said. “It’s not about shopping, it’s not about gifts, it’s not about lights. It’s about taking everyone and becoming one emotion together and knowing that this is what it’s about. It’s about everyone’s heart and mind and that’s the best feeling, knowing we can get people to that point.”

No one is rushed through Enchanted Christmas Tour of Lights either, Brassard said. If someone wants to get away and spend two hours in the attraction they can, he said. There are chairs in the rooms and sometimes people will pick a room and just sit there, Brassard said.

Prescott Gateway Mall is located at 3280 Gateway Blvd. For more information about the Enchanted Christmas Indoor Tour of Lights, visit www.enchantedchristmasaz.com or call the 24 hour info line 1-800-651-8006.

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