The season of eggnog and fruitcakes is upon us. The annual MerryCopa Holiday Festival ushers in the season in the city with festivities expanded to two days this year, starting with the tree lighting at 7:30 tonight on the Copper Sky Multigenerational Center Lawn.
Mayor Nancy Smith, City Council members, along with Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand for the countdown to the lighting. For those who stay afterward, a fireworks show wraps the evening.
Hot cocoa will be complementary. Food may be purchased at food trucks.
Limited onsite complimentary parking is available. Complimentary shuttle service will run from Maricopa Elementary School, Maricopa Wells Middle School and Maricopa High School.
MerryCopa has grown into the largest event of the holiday season in Maricopa. Festivities on Saturday, which run noon to 5 p.m. at Copper Sky, include shopping from local vendors, snacking from food trucks as well as a plethora of festive activities.
In its ninth year, MerryCopa is bringing back several popular activities from the past, among them a Santa Fun Run/Walk. Participants get a Santa suit, hat and beard and race along the course while being chased by the mean, old Grinch. Any runner who escapes the Grinch’s clutches and finishes before he does will receive a special prize.
The Gingerbread House Decorating Contest also returns with cash prizes. Categories include:
- Professional (working in cake/cookie decorating).
- Youth (ages 12 and younger).
Gingerbread houses will be on display and the public may vote on their favorite. Winners will be announced on stage at 3 p.m.
Also returning is the Ugly Sweater contest, but with a social-media twist. Wear a beloved sweater to the park and stop by the Ugly Sweater photo backdrop and take a selfie, or ask a friend to take your photo while you pose. Upload your photo to Instagram using the event hashtag #whatshoulditbe. The image that has the most votes one week later, on Dec. 10, will win $100.
And, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be near the Christmas tree and accepting monetary and non-perishable food-item donations for Maricopa Pantry, which serves the community.
Among other free activities Saturday: petting zoo, photos with Gnomies, ornament making, cookie decorating compliments of Propel Church, ArtMobile craft station, lawn games, plus interactive games, contests and activities from the stage with DJ Erik.
Purchase of a $5 wristband is good for unlimited access to tot bounce houses, train rides, inflatable slides, obstacle courses and bungee run.
The public may support local small businesses at more than 90 vendors in Vendor Village.
The food-truck lineup includes:
- Ava’s Kettle Corn.
- Big Papa’s Concessions.
- Catering By Helen.
- Cocina Coyote.
- Copa Ala Cart.
- Culinary Mafia.
- DT’s BBQ Shack.
- IC Kitchen Fry Bread.
- Island Boyz Jerk Spot.
- Jazzy Z’s Food Service.
- Mo B’s Detroit Coney.
- Pour Sam’s Italian Beef.
- Wetzel’s Pretzels.