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Feb 22nd
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Home Things to Do Festivals Arizona State Parks Offering Visitors a Trio of Christmas Celebrations in December

Arizona Parks

Arizona State Parks Offering Visitors a Trio of Christmas Celebrations in December

Christmas Festivals On Tap for the Public

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A Victorian Christmas celebration, the annual lighting of the Luminarias, and a look at turn-of-the-century holiday décor on the frontier are just some of the Christmas festivities being offered in December by the Arizona State Parks.

The biggest of the Christmas festivals will be on Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park in Flagstaff where visitors will enjoy the annual Christmas Party, a Riordan Christmas tradition.

The community is invited to attend the annual event, which will be held in the Visitor Center. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Santa will be on hand to give out candy and Mrs. Claus will read Christmas stories to the children.

In addition, there will be crafts for the children to make and take home, as well as Christmas music and general good cheer. To help fend off the cold, hot cider and cake will be served. Free to the public. For information call (928) 779-4395.

Built in 1904 for two Riordan families, the Mansion is an impressive reminder of gracious living in a small, territorial logging town.

The historic building is an Arizona treasure - a remarkable example of Arts and Crafts style architecture featuring a rustic exterior of log-slab siding, volcanic stone arches and hand-split wooden shingles. The expansive home has 40 rooms, more than 13,000 square-feet of living area, and servant's quarters.

Holiday visitors will be able to tour the historic home decorated in turn-of-the-century style with wreaths, garlands, greenery and a towering fir tree trimmed with old-fashioned ornaments. Historic quilts loaned by the Coconino Quilter's Guild will also enliven the Mansion's interior. There will be Christmas crafts in the Visitor Center for the children to make and take home. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there as well.

Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is festively decorated and open daily throughout the holiday season. Winter hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guided tours will begin each hour and include glimpses of folklore and traditions of Christmas. Tour reservations are recommended. To make a reservation, call (928) 779-4395.

For more information call Riordan Mansion State Historic Park at (928) 779-4395. Riordan Mansion is closed Christmas Day and is located next to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff on Riordan Road. The web site can be found at

Tombstone Courthouse Luminarias

Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park and the Tombstone Restoration Commission will present the annual Lighting of the Luminarias on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

"Las Posadas," which means lodging or inn, uses luminarias or farolitos, depending on your tradition, as a way of symbolically lighting the path for Mary and Joseph on their procession to find shelter.

The Mexican tradition evolved from 16th century Spanish missionaries. They lit bonfires along the roads and churchyards to guide people to Midnight Mass on the final night of the celebration of "Las Posadas."

To honor this tradition, and ring in the festive holiday season, about 225 small brown paper sacks filled with sand and a candle will be set out and lit on the portico, front and side walls, for this one-night event at the Courthouse.

The Courthouse will close at 5 p.m. and reopen at 6 p.m. Inside, visitors will be greeted by Victorian decorations, warmth and good cheer. Tombstone Restoration Commission is providing finger foods, sweets and beverages of the season for all, while supplies last.

For more information about the Lighting of the Luminarias, call the park at (520) 457-3311. There is no cost to enter the park during the Lighting of the Luminarias. The park is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas Day.

The Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park Web site can be found at

Frontier Christmas at Fort Verde

From Dec. 13, 2008, through January 3, 2009, Fort Verde State Historic Park will be decorated for the Christmas holiday where visitors can glance into the past to see how Victorians celebrated the season at a frontier military post during the late 1800s. Garlands of pine and other local greens decorate the buildings and Christmas trees wear handmade decorations unique to frontier life.

On Saturday, Dec. 20, starting at 1 p.m., Fort Verde State Historic Park there will be a decorating party open to the public and the decorations will be up until early January. The decorating will start at 1 pm.

Fort Verde State Historic Park, east of Prescott, is the best-preserved example of an Indian Wars period fort in Arizona. Spanning from 1865 through 1890 Camp Lincoln, Camp Verde and finally Fort Verde were home to officers, doctors, families, enlisted men and scouts.

Today, visitors can experience three historic house museums, the Commanding Officer's Quarters, Bachelors' Quarters and Doctor's Quarters on Officer's row, all furnished in the 1880s period and holiday grace.
The Fort Verde State Historic Park Web site can be found at

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