While many of us are still looking for leftovers from Thanksgiving, along comes December and the start of the holiday season that brings a new life to the area. With its arrival comes the festive lights and decorations around all the malls and the neighborhoods, where friends and families get together to relive the past and spend some quality time together enjoying the present. Many of us will be traveling to catch up with family and friends in various places, and many guests will be arriving here from their destinations to get a sampling of spending the holidays in the desert. They’re in for a pleasant surprise, as the opportunities available here are endless, regardless of what suits you most, whether its food, the weather, entertainment, historical landmarks, or just meeting up with people you enjoy being with.
Keep your calendars handy, as there are many things to see, especially in the evenings when the sun goes down and the bright lights take over. You may want to check out the Phoenix Zoo if there are youngsters looking for things to do, or the Botanical Gardens, which is always a special treat. When was the last time you rode on a real train? There’s also the Polar Express, where the youngsters show up in pajamas and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, or a trip to the Grand Canyon by Rail out of Williams, not too far away, or perhaps you’d prefer a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad, where you may be lucky enough to spot an eagle or two.
Closer to home, a special treat would be an evening spent at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park located up in Scottsdale off the 101. Their Holiday Light Display will be open from Nov. 29 until Jan. 5 this year, which has attracted large crowds over the past years. The hours run from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m., and within the 40-acre-or-so park, there is a carousel, a scenic train ride around the park, a train museum filled with model trains of various sizes in full operation, food, and several other attractions which will well be worthwhile considering.
Within the Sun Lakes area as part of the ABTO annual Christmas Open House Tour, in the Sun Lakes area, there will be two open houses in the IronOaks Community showing their layouts as part of the Holiday Garden Railroad Tour. Locations are 9401 Jadecrest Drive (Dec. 7-8 and Dec. 14-15) and 9028 East Cooper Hawk Drive (Dec. 7-8 only). Times that these will be available to the public are from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the dates indicated. For those looking for more and willing to put a few miles on the road, on the dates indicated, there will be a grand total of 15 homes around the Valley that will be having their garden layouts open to the public. You can get additional information from their website at www.azbigtrains.org for addresses, as they are pretty well scattered around town, and there are flyers online indicating the addresses and any other information you may be looking for.
Many thanks to many of those who stopped to chat with us throughout the year at our major events. All of us from our club wish you all a very happy holiday season and a healthy, enjoyable new year. If you have any questions regarding our club or any of the above, I can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 480-802-4976. Please always leave a message if you get my answering service so I can return your call. Have a great day, and may your future heading into the new year be filled with good health, excitement, and happiness.