Print Jerome’s lights kick off holidays
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 07 December 2011 00:00

From a rock wall balcony above the street, Santa Claus, Jerome Mayor Jay Kinsella and members of the Jerome Chamber of Commerce and Historical Society welcomed roughly 200 people to Jerome Lights Up the Mountain on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Jerome’s Christmas tree sparkles over the historic mining town nestled on the side of Mingus Mountain at the Light Up the Mountain celebration Saturday, Nov. 26. The lighting party was the first of many holiday events to take place across the Verde Valley over the next few weeks.Santa arrived on an antique fire engine that passed by the crowd so quickly the mystery of the jolly old elf’s identity was easily preserved. From the truck, Santa climbed the concrete and stone stairs to a light switch.

“We love you Santa,” Jamie Biggs, 35, shouted as the mythic personage passed.

“We came all the way from Los Angeles to see him,” Biggs said.

After Santa climbed the stairs, Hannah and John Szmanda took a moment to express their Christmas wishes. Hannah wants Pokémon while John wants Beyblade, a game for people who like to battle armored, spinning tops.

“Thank you for coming out,” Kinsella told the crowd. “Thanks to the town of Jerome, Jerome Historical Society and Jerome Chamber of Commerce for making this event possible.”

Then, on a five-count, Santa threw the switch, causing more than 8,000 LED bulbs to burst into red, green, blue, orange and white light displays on trees, shrubs, and traditional Christmas figures.

Unlike years past, when cold winds, rain or snow greeted partygoers, a warm breeze out of the southwest kept the crowds comfortable and made the event even more enjoyable, Kinsella said.

In the basement of the old Bartlett Hotel, the Mingus Union High School Jazz Band performed pop tunes from the 1970s.

The Mingus Union High School Choir under the direction of James Ball sang sacred songs, the jazz band under the direction of Michael Hanagar played music and MUHS thespians performed vignettes from their upcoming holiday play.

Jerome State Historical Park was also decorated with lights and many shops participated in the Holiday Lights competition with the theme A Celebration of Holidays Past in Jerome, Kinsella said.