by Kelly Tolbert, Recreation Services Coordinator, Prescott Parks and Recreation
December is an exciting time to be a resident of Prescott, Arizona’s Christmas City. With abundant sunny days and overall mild climate, outdoor recreation opportunities can last well into the winter months.
While water sports at our area lakes are likely to slow, hiking, bicycling and horseback riding are still inviting ways to enjoy the local trails. For winter trail activities, the Granite Dells has several exposed trails ranging from easy to difficult, all located within minutes of the downtown business district.
Visitors and residents from around the state and beyond are likely to enjoy holiday-themed events beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving with the Holiday Light Parade.
The first Saturday in December features the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas Parade. Later in the evening, residents and visitors gather around the Courthouse Plaza for the annual Courthouse Lighting where the story of Christmas is read aloud, school children line the courthouse steps to sing carols, and the crowd celebrates as the courthouse is illuminated for the season.
Starting at 6 p.m., Sharlot Hall Museum hosts the annual Frontier Christmas, taking guests back to much simpler times when Prescott was the Territorial State Capital. A small fee is required for this event, and the gift shop welcomes anyone looking for a unique holiday gift.
The following Friday night (Dec. 7 this year) is Acker Night, when downtown businesses extend their store hours and feature live music while raising financial support for the future of music and children in Prescott. This event is ideal for grabbing something warm, a group of friends or family, and strolling from business to business taking in the sights and sounds of the holidays.
Local theaters also offer holiday-themed performances. The Elks Theatre, Prescott Center for the Arts and Yavapai College are sure to offer a variety of family-friendly shows.
Santa makes his stop at the Grand Highland Holiday Courtyard located on historic Whiskey Row just before heading back to the North Pole. He will be there Saturday, Dec. 22 and Sunday, Dec. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Patrons can bring their own cameras and enjoy complimentary refreshments while getting in those last-minute Christmas wish lists.
New Year’s Eve showcases the final event of the calendar year with the Whiskey Row Boot Drop, offering two separate drops at 10 p.m. and midnight. A 6-foot illuminated cowboy boot is lowered while attendees ring in the New Year with food, music and plenty of entertainment. This event is held in front of Whiskey Row on Montezuma Street from Gurley Street to Goodwin Street.