It’s Here!

January 2016 CST.inddCheck out the 2016 Carefree Special Events Edition on page 25.

Seventh Annual Carefree Christmas Festival

Downtown Carefree transforms into a Winter Wonderland December 12-14

SONY DSCA three-day, two-night celebration with real snow, an electric light parade and a fireworks extravaganza, welcomes in the holidays at the seventh annual Carefree Christmas Festival, December 12-14.

The tiny town of Carefree, located just north of the Scottsdale and most famously known for its over-sized sundial, turns into an illuminated winter wonderland for the yuletide event. Festivities take place at the Carefree Desert Gardens, 101 Easy Street, from 10am-9pm Friday and Saturday, and 10am-5pm Sunday.

The signature Electric Light Parade, presented by APS and produced by the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce, takes place Saturday at 6pm, along Easy Street, followed by a fireworks display. ABC15 morning meteorologist, Iris Hermosillo, emcees the parade for the third consecutive year.

“I’m excited to be a part of the Carefree Christmas Festival for the third year in a row,” says Hermosillo. “The committee of Santa’s elves does an amazing job at showcasing the spirit of the holidays with this event.”

All activities are free. Information and a full schedule of events are available by calling 480.488.2051 or at

Expanded event highlights include special appearances by Desert Foothills Theatre’s Ice Queen and Snow Princesses throughout the weekend.

This year’s grand marshals are the children of the United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Phoenix, who will lead the parade on the Tonto Hills Volunteer Fire Department fire truck.

The parade’s finale will include Santa, presented by the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce. Following the procession, Santa will return to Santa’s Grotto for pictures.

Parade entry highlights include Cactus Shadows High School Marching Band, the Elks Club, Aerial Solutions and illuminated parade floats from an array of community businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, churches and residents.

A new live nativity scene will allow families to have their photos taken with the cast of the Desert Foothills Theater’s, The Holy Night, including Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus and Pepper the Donkey.

The annual event has quickly become a holiday tradition in the northeast Valley. Highlights include a lighted holiday village with daytime and late night shopping, seasonal food and drink, live holiday dance and singing performances including the Salvation Army Marching Band, a Kid’s Zone with 35 tons of real snow, lighted carriage rides, real snow and ice princesses, Charles Dickens inspired carolers, a live Nativity display and Santa.

Pet lovers are invited to bring their pets, dressed in their holiday best, for a pet parade and pictures with Santa on Sunday. Pet adoptions by the Foothills Animal Rescue (FAR) will take place throughout the day.

“The festival has become one of the most well-attended holiday events in the Valley because it brings out the child in all who attend. It is reminiscent of a traditional Christmastime of years past,” says Jo Gemmill of Carefree. Gemmill is the director and founder of the event.

The four-acre Carefree Desert Gardens provide a stunning backdrop, with thousands of cacti, many rare or unusual specimens, illuminated in holiday lights for the festival.

According to Gemmill, the festival relies heavily on generous corporate and small business sponsorships to fund the event.

Several important sponsors have signed on this year, including APS who will make possible the Festival’s signature event, Saturday night’s Electric Light Parade.

Sanderson Lincoln on Bell Road will present a snow slide and 35 tons of real snow, and local Carefree businessman, Chris Mellon of Chris Mellon Custom Home & Remodeling Center, is sponsoring the always-popular Kid’s Zone.

Discount Tire has also signed on to be a supporter this year, according to Gemmill.


Go to page 36 for a complete Carefree Christmas Festival Calendar of Events!



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