A parade, arts and crafts booths, snow, pictures with Santa and choir music help to usher in a small-town feeling for the holidays in Litchfield Park. The city’s annual Christmas in the Park event brings different generations together to celebrate the holidays in both traditional and modern ways.
This year, the family-friendly celebration takes place Dec. 14 and will run along Old Litchfield Road and Wigwam Boulevard.
The event offers a winter wonderland play area including 15 tons of snow, inflatable jumphouses, make-and-take crafts, train and pony rides, arts and crafts vendors and, of course, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Tricia Kramer, special events coordinator for the City of Litchfield Park, said every year, residents of Litchfield Park along with residents in other West Valley cities - anticipate this event.
Despite how much the event grows year-after-year, it’s an event the city insists maintais the special hometown Christmas feel - making it memorable for every generation in attendence.
“The adults coming feel a sense of nostalgia, and of course, the children are gaining those new experiences,” Kramer added.
One of the major highlights for the festival, the annual hometown parade will kick off at 10 a.m.
The parade route will move along Old Litchfield Road from Villa Nueva Drive north to the roundabout at Old Litchfield Road and continue west on Wigwam Boulevard to Desert Avenuee, before heading north and dispersing.
This year, the parade grew to 2,000 participants, including walking groups, floats and vehicle entries.
For the first time, a NASCAR pace car will be featured in the parade, along with three fire trucks and six marching bands from the Agua Fria Union High School District and from Wigwam Creek Middle School.
The parade also features dignitaries, school groups, dance groups, businesses, nonprofits and scouting troops.
Kramer reported the parade is an annual tradition for many families.
“We get some people who come as we are still doing final setups for the festival early in the morning,” Kramer said. “They start staking out where they want to be set up for the parade.”
Following the parade, Mayor Thomas L. Schoaf will give a special reading of a holiday classic, where children are invited to come onstage.
Throughout the day, local bands, choirs and dance groups perform holiday-themed numbers.
The entertainment lineup includes dance groups from the Bravo Dance Family, Ballet Folklorico Esperanza and the Take Five Dance Academy.
Food vendors offer a mix of cuisine, including sugar cookies, barbecue, coffee, samosas, creamery ice cream and chocolate-dipped fruit.
Around 70 arts and crafts vendors will sell handmade items such as holiday wreaths, books, jewelry and children’s items.
“There’s a lot of great gift-giving items you can see the love and attention to detail the vendors really put into them,” Kramer added.
For many local children, it will be a rare chance to play in snow. An area on Old Litchfield Road will have sections for younger and older children.
During the festival, children can have their pictures taken with Santa and can write letters to Old Saint Nick. Professional photos cost $5 each and this year, parents will have the option of having photos emailed to them.
Inside Santa’s workshop, children can make traditional holiday crafts such as thumbprint snowflakes, beaded candy canes or clothespin angels.