Tags Articles tagged with "Christmas"


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Christmas trees are being dropped off at a lot in the Heritage District.

Ready to get  your Christmas tree out of the house?

The City of Maricopa has again created an area to drop off your trees for recycling, and a local Boy Scout troop can take your tree off your hands, too.

The drop-off location is in the Heritage District near the junction of Wilson and Garvey avenues. Signs are up to guide drivers. It is open 24 hours a day. The City will accept Christmas trees through Jan. 31.

The service is for real trees only, and they should be un-decorated. The trees will be chipped for mulch and other uses. For more information, call 520-316-6946.

Boy Scout Troop 993 will pick up your tree as part of its 13th annual fundraiser. The boys will pick up the trees Jan. 5. Customary donation for the service is $5, but any amount is appreciated.

To schedule a time for pick-up, email your name, address, subdivision and phone number to Troop993@yahoo.com, or call Gerry Hahn at 516-551-4360.

Have your tree out in front of your home by 9 a.m. If you do not wish to be disturbed, leave donations in an envelope taped to the tree or under your front door mat.

Santa handed out gifts from The Streets Don't Love You Back annual Christmas program. Photo by Kyle Norby

The 11th annual The Streets Don’t Love You Back toy drive giveaway was Saturday at the Maricopa Police Department’s Copper Sky substation. Over 60 children received donated gifts, including 29 bikes that were donated by the American Sheriff Foundation and the Heart Strings foundation. Founders Rob and Lucinda Boyd had four of their grandchildren help out Santa as his elves.

The Boyds sent a “huge thanks” to all who have participated in the Toy Drive this year and a special thanks to the foundations for the bicycles donated.

Photos by Kyle Norby

It’s been a struggle for Carmen and Eddie Hurtado to get their home shipshape for Christmas, but despite some physical ailments they had their Christmas Tree House alight Saturday, just ahead of the holiday. In what has become a tradition, they typically have opened their home during evenings for the month of December, allowing the community in to see their huge collection of trees, decorations and decor. “I’m not going to get it all done but I do have some of my favorite things up,” Carmen Hurtado said of their hom at 18522 N. Carment Ave. Learn more

Maricopa Chorus sings at Merry Copa. Photos by Kyle Norby

Crowds turned out for Maricopa’s Merry Copa holiday celebration Friday night at Copper Sky. The evening included the tree lighting and fireworks along with a hot-air balloon glow. Kids enjoyed snow sledding and ice skating, games and cookies, and much more at the annual event.

What: Merry Copa
When: Dec. 6, 6-9 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
How much: Free entry, activity wristbands $5, onsite parking $5
Info: MerryCopa.com

When the City of Maricopa event coordinators subtitled this year’s Merry Copa celebration “Let It Snow,” they were serious.

The City is hauling in 50 tons of snow for the annual event for lots of sledding opportunities at the annual event, which this year is on a Friday. Kids will also find a bounce house and mechanical reindeer rodeo.

Santa will again be on hand to greet children, and the horse-drawn carriage will return for a “sleigh ride.” There will be contests for ugliest sweater and fastest doughnut-eating. If you prefer your dough in a different form, there will also be cookie-decorating.

Techies can indulge in virtual reality and esports. Vendors and food trucks will also be on hand.

Maricopa Chorus will sing carols as will the school choir from Leading Edge Academy. Bring your ice skates for the faux ice rink and check out the reindeer ranch.

A hot-air balloon glow display is back, too.

Mayor Christian Price is scheduled to lead the tree lighting just before 9 p.m., when the City has planned a fireworks display.

Parking at Copper Sky will be $5, but attendees can also park at Maricopa High School or Maricopa Wells Middle School, both on Honeycutt Avenue, and ride the free shuttle to and from the park.

The 5K Santa Run has been canceled, according to Marketing and Development Coordinator Matthew Reiter.

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa. Information on the Santa Run cancellation has been added.


A gang of St. Nicks participated in the annual  Santa Run at Copper Sky Dec. 22. Joshua Hoeh was the winner of the 5K race, but all had a good time of the event presented by the City of Maricopa.

Community of Hope Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Honeycutt Avenue displayed a live nativity and nativity sets Saturday in a side-by-side event. It was the 14th year for the live nativity, which included a donkey and goat. The creche festival included around 150 sets from around the world.

Photos by Jim Headley

The Masik Tas Light Parade again lit up the night this year on Farrell Road through the Ak-Chin community. The Dec. 8 event included entries from Ak-Chin, Maricopa and beyond.

Linda and Rich Huggins bring Christmas into their home along with Santa and Mrs. Claus every year. Photo courtesy Random Shots

Every year, Santa and Mrs. Claus appear for a month or two at the Desert Cedars home of Rich and Linda Huggins.

Q&A with Santa & Mrs. Claus

Q: Some people leave out cookies and cocoa for Santa. What treat would you really like?
SANTA: Tacos! We don’t have tacos at the North Pole, and Santa loves tacos.

Q: How do you decide who gets on the Naughty list?
SANTA: I leave that to Mrs. Claus.

Q: How long does it take you to get dressed for your Christmas Eve journey?
SANTA: About 20 minutes. I have two elves to help.

Q: What part of your outfit takes the longest?
MRS. CLAUS: The belt. It’s very heavy and very authentic.

Q: What do the reindeer like to snack on while they are waiting for Santa?
SANTA: Apples and carrots.

Q: What is your favorite song of the season?
SANTA: “White Christmas.” I like all of them.

Q How do you stay organized and keep track of so many children?
SANTA: Mrs. Claus keeps the books, and Santa checks the books.

Q: How do you choose your elves?
MRS. CLAUS: It’s a very popular thing to be an elf. We have to rotate every week.

Q: Does Santa really give naughty children coal for Christmas?
SANTA: Mrs. Claus does.

Q: What does Santa do after Christmas?
MRS. CLAUS: We’re going on a cruise!

Usually for four weekends (this year it’s five), they welcome young visitors, listen to their Christmas wishes and send them off with a candy cane. It has come to be known as Santa’s South Pole vacation home as he prepares for the big night.

Starting the week after Thanksgiving and continuing through the weekend before Christmas, Santa and Mrs. Claus are available Friday and Saturday 6-9 p.m. and Sunday 6-8 p.m. at 44267 W. Cypress Lane.

“Normally, we call it the 12 days of Christmas, but this year it’s 15 days because of how the calendar falls,” Linda Huggins said.

Since moving to Maricopa in 2005, the Hugginses have presented the Claus couple. Several families have told them they are the real beginning of Maricopa’s Christmas season.

“We had 75 kids the first year,” said Linda Huggins, who chairs the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission. “Last year, we had 885. We keep track by the number of candy canes we give out.”

When it was time for Santa to get a new outfit last year, they turned to local Amanda McVay of Amanda Sews. This year, it was Mrs. Claus’ turn to get a new ensemble from Amanda Sews after dramatic weight loss over a dozen years.

Happily taking the title of “Maricopa Santa,” they are also seen at public events such as the City Hall tree lighting, Merry Copa and Shop with a Cop. But sitting down with children and even having their picture taken with them is the heart of what they do.

“We take time with every child,” said Rich Huggins, who owns Maricopa Pool & Spa.

Maricopa Santa has a website operated by Linda’s son Ken Bobertz and a Facebook page, even getting “reviewed” by visitors.

Like Beth Mundell, who shared, “They are the best and benefit the community,” and whose cheer team members from Rockstar Arizona led the parade for Santa’s arrival Nov. 23.

The event involves three houses on Cypress Lane. The Hugginses said they always register their home for the City’s Holiday Homes on Parade, not to win but to be on the map.

“We have close to 100,000 lights,” Linda Huggins said.

There is no charge to visit with Santa, but the Hugginses are asking visitors to bring unwrapped toys to benefit F.O.R. Maricopa’s annual Christmas project. Anyone who brings a toy will receive a raffle ticket. The Hugginses also sponsor a family for Christmas.

Rich and Linda said it is their way of giving back.

Linda Huggins said she was on the welfare roles 35 years ago. She and her children were fortunate enough to be sponsored for Christmas by Catholic Charities, receiving dinner and presents.

“I promised God I was going to give back,” she said.

“We have memories that will last a lifetime,” Rich Huggins said.


This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

For 13 years, Community of Hope has presented its Living Nativity program, even as the church changed locations to 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave. Three years ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints next door began a traditional Creche display of scores of nativity sets from around the world.

This year, the two are joining forces to present a unique and spiritual reflection on the beginnings of Christianity. Both churches will have their programs Dec. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Community of Hope Pastor Rusty Akers said both are come-and-go events, with his 14th annual living nativity cycling through several performances during the evening. Church members perform the roles in an outdoor set with narration from the New Testament.

“It’s become a Christmas tradition for many people,” Akers said. “If you’ve never been, we’d love to invite you out.”

Bishop Brian Hoffman said the Creche Festival had more than 100 nativity sets on display last year and he expects even more this year. Besides the United States, the sets come from Mexico, Israel, Europe, South America and elsewhere. The tour is self-guided and at your own pace.

“These are depictions from the life of Christ,” Hoffman said. “So, sit back and remember the purpose of the Christmas season.”

Both churches are on Honeycutt Avenue across from Maricopa High School. After visitors enjoy one program, they are invited to walk next door to experience the other. Both will have refreshments and children’s activities.

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


Merry Copa, the City’s holiday festival, hosted arts, crafts, hot-air balloons, snow, a tree-lighting and, of course, Santa during the free event Saturday at Copper Sky. A silent auction of decorated miniature trees benefited charities, and attendees had the opportunity to vote on a creative display of gingerbread houses.


Maricopa Public Library hosted family fun its Winter Wonderland launch Thursday. The afternoon included arts, crafts and games in the children’s area of the library. Photos by Kyle Norby

Photo by Jordan Robertson/MHS


 Merry Copa, a Winter Wonderland, holiday fun at Shamrock Farms and more are part of the Maricopa events this week. For details on the following events and others, or to add your own, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar.


 Seniors play Pinochle at 8:30 a.m. at Santa Cruz Elementary School, 19845 N. Costa del Sol Blvd.

 Senior Bowling is at 10 a.m. at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, 16000 N. Maricopa Road/

 Narcotics Anonymous meets at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

 Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL) meet at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Behavioral Health Services, 21300 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 103.


 Seniors play Pinochle at 8:30 a.m. at 8:30 a.m. at Santa Cruz Elementary School, 19845 N. Costa del Sol Blvd.

 Seniors play Canasta at 1 p.m. at 8:30 a.m. at Santa Cruz Elementary School, 19845 N. Costa del Sol Blvd.

 Celebrate Recovery Coffee & Karaoke is at 5 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.


 Creative Sisterhood is at 9 a.m. at 8:30 a.m. at Santa Cruz Elementary School, 19845 N. Costa del Sol Blvd.

 Babytime is at 9:30 a.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

 Harrah’s Club 777 Toastmasters meet at 3 p.m. at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 N. Maricopa Road.

 S.M.A.R.T. Kids meet at 3:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

 Maricopa Police Explorer Post Meeting is at 5 p.m. at Maricopa High School, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.


 Seniors play Pinochle at 8:30 a.m. at 8:30 a.m. at Santa Cruz Elementary School, 19845 N. Costa del Sol Blvd.

 Seniors play Farkle at 9 a.m. at 8:30 a.m. at Santa Cruz Elementary School, 19845 N. Costa del Sol Blvd.

 Seniors play Canasta at 1 p.m. at 8:30 a.m. at Santa Cruz Elementary School, 19845 N. Costa del Sol Blvd.

 Winter Wonderland is 3-5:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road

 A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Ak-Chin Social Services, 48227 W. Farrell Road.


 Seniors play Pinochle at 8:30 a.m. at 8:30 a.m. at Santa Cruz Elementary School, 19845 N. Costa del Sol Blvd.

 Strength & Hope Al-Anon Meeting is at 7 p.m. at Community of Hope Church, 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.


ACE Community Coaching Clinic for baseball/softball coaches is at 9 a.m. at Maricopa High School baseball field, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.

 Shamrock Farms Joy to the Herd is 9 a.m.-2p.m. at Shamrock Farms, 40034 W. Clayton Road, Stanfield.

Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association hosts a poker run leaving Casa Grande at 9 a.m. and traveling to Headquarters and Raceway Bar & Grill.

 Merry Copa Holiday Festival is 3-8 p.m. at Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.


 Shamrock Farms Joy to the Herd is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Shamrock Farms, 40034 W. Clayton Road, Stanfield.

 Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

This year, the 12 Days of Christmas will be 15 days at the Huggins home. Photo by Kyle Norby

If You Go
What: Maricopa Santa
When: Nov. 23-Dec. 23, Friday-Saturday 6-9 p.m., Sunday 6-8 p.m.
Where: 44267 W. Cypress Lane
How much: Free (please bring an unwrapped toy)
Info: MaricopaSanta.com

Santa and Mrs. Claus are getting ready for the 2018 Christmas season. This Friday launches their annual 12 Days of Christmas, inviting children to “South Pole Vacation Home” in Desert Cedars.

The home of Rich and Linda Huggins at 44267 W. Cypress Lane will be open Fridays and Saturdays 6-9 p.m. and Sundays 6-8 p.m. through Dec. 23 for children to visit with Santa. This year is special as the calendar allows five weekends, or 15 Days of Christmas.

The visit with Santa is free. Those who visit are asked to bring an unwrapped toy to benefit F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank’s Christmas program.

The big opening celebration Friday will have Santa and Mrs. Claus arriving on a Maricopa Fire/Medical Department truck escorted by cheerleaders from Beth Mundell’s RockStar Arizona.

“We take time with every child,” said Rich Huggins, who owns Maricopa Pool & Spa and is known as Maricopa Santa.

Every child also receives a candy cane. All who bring a toy will receive a raffle ticket. The winning ticket for a 40-inch television will be drawn Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.

Maricopa Santa has a website operated by Linda’s son Ken Bobertz and a Facebook page.

The event involves three houses on Cypress Lane. The Hugginses said they always register their home for the City’s Holiday Homes on Parade, not to win but to be on the map.

“We have close to 100,000 lights,” Linda Huggins said.

Photo by Kye Norby

Both Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in their finest ensembles. Last year, local seamstress Amanda McVay of Amanda Sews created a new outfit for Santa as his previous clothes were getting worn out by time and the many children who have been on his knee.

This year, McVay made a whole new outfit for Mrs. Claus after having to take in the old dress a few times due to dramatic weight loss.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” Linda Huggins said.

She said many parents have told her the visit with Santa after Thanksgiving has become their families’ traditional way to start the Christmas season.

“We had 75 kids the first year,” said Linda Huggins, who chairs the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission. “Last year, we had 885. We keep track by the number of candy canes we give out.”

Rich Huggins has been Maricopa Santa since they moved to Maricopa in 2005. They opened their Desert Cedars home to visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus in 2006. After Christmas, they head off on vacation.

But even when visiting Caribbean shores in his vacation togs, there’s no mistaking Santa. Just as he does when he helps the mayor light the tree at City Hall or helps local fire and police departments with their Christmas programs, he always draws a crowd.

Learn more about the Hugginses in the December issue of InMaricopa.


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Members of Maricopa Public Safety Departments gave back to their community this season by donating gifts for the holidays. During the sixth annual Ride for Toys event Dec. 9, children and their families received rides aboard The Maricopa Fire/Medical Department and fire trucks in exchange for toy donations. With help from CERT volunteers, MFMD donated the toys, as well as a $500 check to F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank. Dec. 16, The Maricopa Police Department helped local children purchase gifts for their families during their annual “Shop with a Cop” inside Walmart.

Maricopa Cub Scout Pack 389 at Walmart. Photo by Michelle Chance

A local cub scout pack continued a holiday tradition recently by purchasing toys and clothing for other children.

For the fifth consecutive year, Maricopa Cub Scout Pack 389 handpicked presents for 24 kids at Walmart on Dec. 7.

“It’s really important in scouting to give back to your community and make sure you are showing the philanthropy and doing service toward our community,” said Chris Cahall, Cub Scout pack leader.

The troop used angel tree tags from Community of Hope Church and the Maricopa Unified School District along with $800 they raised throughout the year to buy the gifts.

The most popular request from boys and girls this year? Clothing.

“(It’s) surprising because in years past, we’ve had a lot more toy requests and we always try to throw something in that’s fun if we can, if we’re allowed, to, but this year I’d say about 98 percent of the requests have been for clothes.”

Cub Scout Parker Moore, a first grader, selected a gray and orange jacket for a local boy on his list. He was also excited that children would receive fun presents too.

“They might not have enough money to buy toys, so I would like to give toys to them,” Moore said.

The scouts found plenty of toys for local children. Eight-year-old Connor Smith found a LEGO kit for a boy near his age, but choosing a gift for a girl was a bit more challenging.

“It was very confusing. Very confusing,” Smith said, smiling.

With assistance from their parents, the scouts succeeded in purchasing a gift for every child while experiencing the spirit of giving.

“I think they’ll feel happy and excited that we came out here today and bought all of them presents,” said 9-year-old Cub Scout Ethan Cahall.

For more information on Cub Scout Pack 389, visit their Facebook page.

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Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa City Hall was full of music and blithe spirits Tuesday for the annual tree-lighting ceremony. Santa Claus and Mayor Christian Price counted down the lighting, and visitors enjoyed refreshments, live music and new art before the city council convened its regular meeting.

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Cub Scout Pack 997 is adopting two families for Christmas. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Cub Scout Pack 997 is in the holiday spirit.

The boys, who delivered a Thanksgiving meal to one family this year, are adopting two families for Christmas. Wolf Den Leader Zelmer Hagler said the pack will supply gifts and a tree.

Hagler said it is about teaching the Cubs about thankfulness. He connected with Rob Boyd of The Streets Don’t Love You Back to find deserving families.

“We’re going to decorate the tree and give them presents,” he said. “As far the families we’re adopting, we want to get them the tree the week before Christmas.”

Pack 997 is also participating in a toy drive in partnership with Copa Craze, Journey 2 Fitness and 360 Barber Shop & Beauty Bar. “We’ll be collecting toys until about three days before Christmas,” Hagler said.

J Curtis of Copa Craze said Maricopans can drop off donated toys at the store, 20928 N. John Wayne Parkway. The other drop-off is in Tempe at 2155 E. University, Suite 209, which is the 360 Barber Shop.

“This teaches the Wolf Cubs to be helpful and courteous, which is part of their Scout’s Law and Scout’s Oath,” Hagler said.


This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.


Butterfield Elementary School students write about their favorite part of the season:

(Click on photos below to enlarge)

Julia Perugini with husband Charlie and their daughter Sophia with holiday fare in their Maricopa kitchen. Photo by Mason Callejas

When it comes to following your dreams, one Maricopa resident knows sometimes you have to take a chance, and that sometimes, that risk yields great rewards.

Check out Julia Perugini’s recipe for Brazilian carrot cake below.

This month, 34-year-old Julia Perugini will be featured on Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge. As part of the challenge, she will face off with three other cookie makers from across the country, to compete for a $10,000 cash prize.

Online, she has developed a sizable amount of fanfare and demand for her cookies and cakes, shipping most of her stock out of state. Thanks to social media, she has been able to market and sell her tasty treats, and she has caught the eye of several major players in the baking world, including producers at the Food Network.

The Food Network describes the series: “Host Eddie Jackson welcomes five fabulously festive cookie makers into Santa’s workshop. Judges Kimberly Bailey, Damiano Carrara and Ree Drummond are on hand to taste the creations and decide who will leave the North Pole $10,000 richer.”

Perugini’s professional life began far from the kitchen.

“Some people believe you have to pursue a job as a doctor or lawyer, or something professional,” Julia said. “So, that’s what I did.”

A native of Brazil, Julia actually holds a degree in engineering and spent several years working for mineral exploration companies in her home country, including at sites deep inside the Amazon rainforest.

Julia as a young girl in Brazil. Submitted photo

Like the United States, Brazil was hit by the economic recession of 2008, so she took a chance. Using her savings, she decided to emigrate to the United States via New York, where she hoped to learn more English.

Despite her degree, she found it hard to find work in the Big Apple, something she blamed on her not-so-refined ability to speak the language. So, she took on jobs as a nanny before embracing the skills she had honed growing up in Brazilian kitchens around her home town of Belo Horizonte.

“Originally when she started, it was because she was helping her friend plan a party,” her husband Charlie said. “And then she started doing a little bit here and there and it just kind of picked up.”

Julia and Charlie met shortly after she arrived in New York, and they were married about a year later.

Over the next six years she worked in kitchens throughout the New York area, working in all positions from a short order cook all the way up to private gigs cooking for ritzy families in the Hamptons.

Though her skills cover both the sweet and savory sides of the pallet, her true passion is sweets: “I can cook everything. There is just something about it [cookies and cupcakes] I really love.”

Julia in New York City. Submitted photo

Perugini eventually decided to go into business for herself, baking cookies and cakes. However, with such tight regulations on homebased businesses, she quickly realized New York was not the best launching pad for her dreams.

Pregnant with their daughter Sophia in 2016, Julie and Charlie decided to move someplace easier to pursue her dreams and better suited for their expanding family.

“My husband always liked Arizona and convinced me that here was the best place to live,” she said.

After briefly living in Ahwatukee, the family found the right house in Maricopa and built the business.

Photo by Mason Callejas

“I’m really proud of her,” Charlie said. “She’s basically started from nothing and its almost doubled each year [since].”

Customer Annie Smith said Julia’s Cookies were perfect for her son’s second birthday. “These were adorable and delicious. They were flawless, individually wrapped and arrived right on time. I couldn’t be happier.”

Reviewers also have noted her attention to detail, taste and professionalism.

Not long after settling into their new home, she got word she had been selected for the Christmas Cookie Challenge on the Food Network.

Several years earlier, while living in New York, she had signed up for a similar Food Network competition but never heard anything back. Then in early 2017 she got a call asking if she was interested.

Perugini’s episode will air Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Arizona time.


Instagram: at juliascookiesnyc; Etsy: JuliasCookies

Julia’s Brazilian Carrot Cake

“This is the most traditional Brazilian cake,” Julia said, “it’s very soft, fluffy and delicious!”


  • 3 carrots
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 oz vegetable oil
  • 8 oz sugar
  • 9 oz all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder

Add all wet ingredients plus sugar to blender or mixer until creamy.

Add the flour and blend a little more.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in baking powder gently with a whisk.

Place in a round baking pan, or any baking pan.

Bake for about 45 minutes at 350 F

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 3.5 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoon honey

Place in a medium sized pan over medium heat mixing until all ingredients combine and are a caramel-like consistency.

Pour over the cake.


This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

A living nativity will be re-enacted every 30 minutes Dec. 9 outside Community of Hope Church.

Come December, many faithful Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus by installing a creche in front of their home or in public spaces. Typically, nativity scenes are created with scaled-down figures of the manger scene, often lit up at night.

For the past 13 years, one Maricopa church has taken that model and gone a step further.

“We bring the nativity scene to life,” Community of Hope Pastor Rusty Akers said.

In December, the Church will be holding its 14th annual Living Nativity. For one day, typically the Saturday before Christmas, volunteers assemble in an area around the church and portray the nativity scene through live action, Akers said.

Every 30 minutes, for roughly three hours, churchgoers read the gospels, telling the story of the first Christmas.

“It’s kind of come and go,” Akers said. “You don’t have to be there for one show, it’s kind of an ongoing thing.”

They sing carols, enjoy light refreshments and provide activities for the kids.

They have hay bales for attendees to sit on. And if the weather proves to be a bit chilly, they will also provide heaters.

Akers said most actors are pulled from the church’s congregation, even baby Jesus. Some years, that proves problematic.

“We use a live baby every year, so we always rely on somebody in our church to get pregnant and have a kid sometime between August and November,” Akers said, laughing.

When that plan fails, he said, they’ve had to go outside the church to find an infant stand-in.

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.


What: Living Nativity
When: Dec. 9, 5-8 p.m., every half hour
Where: Community of Hope Church, 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How much: Free
Info: COHMaricopa.com, Facebook.com/COHMaricopa

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The fourth annual Merry Copa festival drew a crowd to Copper Sky on Saturday. See the growing gallery of photos (and send in your own at News@InMaricopa.com). A zone for kids included the snow slide and skating rink, ornament decorating and cookie decorating. Gingerbread houses were judged, and scores participated in the one-mile Santa Run around the lake.

The one-mile Santa Run is just one part of the fourth annual Merry Copa. Photo by Mason Callejas

Snow, a sleigh ride, luminaries, ornament decorating, gingerbread, cookies, hot chocolate, running Santas and, of course, a tree-lighting by the lake all bring Christmas to Maricopa in one big celebration.

Now in its fourth year, Merry Copa is set for Dec. 2 from 2 to 8 p.m. at Copper Sky Regional Park. Entry is free.

Niesha Whitman, special events manager for the City of Maricopa, said organizers decided to extend the hours of the event “to allow more opportunities for families to enjoy everything there is to do.”

New this year is a “sleigh ride,” which is actually a horse-and-carriage offering rides for $4. There will also be an informal “Ugly Christmas Sweater” contest, with the winner decided by audience applause and receiving a gift.

A new event leading up to Merry Copa has been Maricopa Rocks specifically decorated for Merry Copa. Kids who found the rocks can turn them in at the event for a free wristband in the Snow Zone.

The Snow Zone is a collection of wintertime fun such as a snow mound, “ice” rink and bounce houses. A wristband for children age 3 and up is $5.

Cookie decorating, ornament decorating (sponsored by Ace Hardware) and hot chocolate are all $1 each. Whitman said luminaries will also be part of the crafts this year.

Kids and adults will compete in the Gingerbread House Decorating Contest, with entries on display at the opening of Merry Copa and winners announced at 5:30 p.m. Grand prize is a $100 gift card.

The Santa Run, which debuted last year, returns but is shortened to a 1-mile fun run/walk. Participants receive one-size-fits-all Santa suits to compete in and create an entertaining visual effect for those cheering on the running Santas. The race is 4-6 p.m.

The mayor is expected to light the tree at 7 p.m.

A free shuttle to the venue is provided from several school parking lots and Ace Hardware.

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

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Will your Christmas decorations win a cash prize. The annual Holiday Homes & Businesses on Parade is in December.

Planning an elaborate Christmas display?

Maricopans have until 5 p.m. Dec. 1 to register for the 14th annual Holiday Homes & Businesses on Parade. Participants have a chance to win cash prizes.

“This is a highly anticipated, competitive event,” said Niesha Whitman, the city’s special events manager.

Whitman said 34 houses competed last year.

For residences, categories are broken down in Best Theme, Best Light Show and Best Use of Color, with individual winners earning bragging rights. Residents will vote for their favorite displays Dec. 9-18. The home that wins Resident’s Choice gets $300.

The Parks, Recreation and Libraries Committee and city staff will judge all entries Dec. 11-12. They will pick Best on Parade, which also wins $300.

As the name implies, there is also a business category in the Holiday Homes & Businesses on Parade contest. The winning business earns a fee waiver for a banner permit for six months.

Check out last year’s winners and learn how to register.

MOBILE USERS GET NEWS FIRST. Download InMaricopa for Apple and Android devices.


The City of Maricopa is providing a free 24-hour drop-off location for Christmas trees. From Dec. 27 through Jan. 31 residents, can drop off their trees at 45145 W. Madison Ave., the former City Hall location.

Public Works crews will be chipping the trees. The wood chips can be used for mulch. The chips will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, at the site, beginning Jan. 3.

If you have any questions about the program, please call 520-316-6946.

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Are you hitting the Arizona highways today? Stay up with the forecast.

The latest National Weather Service forecast for Arizona’s high country calls for between 6 and 12 inches of snow at elevations between 6,000 and 8,000 feet beginning late Saturday morning and continuing into Saturday evening. Windblown snow is expected to create hazardous driving conditions in areas.

For lower elevations, the latest forecast calls for rain and gusting wind during the same period.

ADOT has nearly 200 snowplows and 400 certified snowplow operators ready to clear highways around the state, but if snowfall is heavy and widespread it may take some time for them to reach every stretch.

You hold the keys to safety if your route may have snow and ice. These are just some of the winter-driving tips available at azdot.gov/KnowSnow.

•    Slow down: Adjust your speed to conditions.
•    Create space: Leave extra room between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Avoid sudden braking.
•    Give snowplows room: Slow down and stay at least four vehicle lengths behind a plow. Wait for a plow to pull over before passing, and remember: The safest place to be when there’s snow and ice on a road is behind a plow.
•    Leave prepared: Bring extra clothing and gloves, make sure your tank is half to three-quarters full at all times, keep your cellphone charged and pack extra drinking water, snacks and all necessary medications.
•    Pack an emergency kit: It should include blankets, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a small shovel, a container of sand or cat litter for traction and warning lights or reflectors.
•    Beware of black ice: Melting snow can turn into ice, especially at night. Ice tends to form on bridges first and can be difficult to see.
•    Consider waiting it out: Highways can close suddenly in severe weather due to accumulating snow and ice or due to crashes. If conditions warrant, delaying travel may be the safest decision.

Many of these tips apply to driving on wet roads as well, including waiting out threatening weather if need be. Here are some others:

•    Inspect windshield wipers and replace them if necessary.
•    Turn on headlights while driving.
•    Avoid areas where water is pooling in travel lanes.

Wherever your travels take you this holiday weekend, you can get the latest highway conditions by calling 511 or visiting the Arizona Traveler Information site, where traffic and weather cameras allow you to see current conditions around the state. ADOT’s Facebook and Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) accounts are excellent sources of information and interaction.

The Golf Cart Cavalcade in Province benefited the local food bank. Submitted

This year the Province subdivision celebrated its second annual Golf Cart Parade and Food Drive on Sunday Dec. 4, to help F.O.R. Maricopa food bank gear up for the holidays.

On the first Sunday of December a cavalcade of 24 golf carts, some decorated and some not, rambled up and down the luminaria-lined Darter Drive collecting items for the food bank.

Residents served hot food and drinks out of their garages to neighbors and participants.

Dave Bock started this parade last year not just as a way to help the needy but as a way to bring his community together.

“The object of the golf cart parade is to, one, have fun, and, two, collect just as much food as you can for the food bank,” Bock said. “Last year we collected 1,710 pounds. This year we collected 2,309 pounds of food.”

That was in spite of having half a dozen fewer carts this year.

The winner was Dennis McCormac. Photo by Donna McGregor
The winner was Dennis McCormac. Photo by Donna McGregor

Later that night a truck showed up from the food bank and was loaded down with the goodies. Six volunteers from the neighborhood then went with the truck to the food bank to help unload.

“It was a real challenge to get all that picked up. Some carts made three or four trips,” Bock said.


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SunChasers Motorcycle Club picks up toys and other supplies for residents of a local women's shelter. Submitted photo

For the second year, Arizona SunChasers Motorcycle Club delivered items to the women’s shelter in Maricopa.

Comprised of members from Phoenix, Maricopa and Canada, the group picked up purchased and donated goods, as well as stuffed animals, at a home in the Villages and rode to the Against Abuse house.

According to member Kelly Rockney, the SunChasers brought clothing, personal items, toys, games, tablets and household goods.

Previously, the group took its bike convoy to a shelter in Casa Grande but started delivering to the Maricopa home last year. The SunChasers collect donations throughout the year to drop off during the summer as well.



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For the 10th year in a row, the Maricopa City Council is initiating a Special Event Permit program to assist in promoting local business awareness and economic growth.

During the holiday season, businesses will be permitted to display, free of charge, additional signage and decorations to promote holiday shopping and create an enhanced, festive atmosphere.

There is no need to apply for a permit; participating businesses need only to follow the program criteria and guidelines or contact City offices for assistance.

The program runs Dec. 7-Jan. 8 and applies to Maricopa businesses located in industrial or commercial business zones.

Contact the City of Maricopa Planning Division at (520) 316-6920 or visit the City’s website, maricopa-az.gov

This event applies to any business with a current City of Maricopa business license located in Commercial Business Zones; CB-1 (Local Business Zones), CB-2 (General Business Zone), CI-1 (Light Industry and Warehouse Zone) and CI-2 only.

This event is intended for decorations, displays, temporary signs, banners and pennants for the holiday season for the specified time mentioned above.

Banners and pennants shall be displayed only on the building and not within the parking area or perimeter landscape due to public safety regulations, unless granted approval from Planning Division staff.

All electrical devices shall be UL listed and rated for exterior use.

Electrical extension cords shall be exterior grade, grounded and weatherproof.

All signs/displays/decorations shall be removed from the property by Jan. 8, 2017, and will be the responsibility of the individual business owner.

No signs/displays shall be located in a manner that impedes or restricts vehicular, non-vehicular, pedestrian traffic or within the specified visibility site triangle at driveways and intersections.

Repeated violations of the sign code may/will result in code enforcement action.

Businesses taking this special event opportunity should not be in violation of any other City Ordinance, County Ordinance, State or Federal Law relating to public health, safety and welfare.

Those businesses under the regulation of POAs (Property Owners Association) should receive permission from Leasing/Management agencies and may be limited as to their participation in this event.

If it is deemed necessary in the interest of public safety, protection, health and morals, the City reserves the right to remove any or all signs, displays or decorations from the business site as applicable. The City may prohibit or restrict a Special Event Permit in response to complaints received from adjacent property owners or the general public.

All businesses are encouraged to work in unison to make this a successful event. This Special Event Permit is designed to promote local business in the City and shall not be misconstrued otherwise.

If meeting all event criteria, no individual City of Maricopa sign permits are required to participate in this event.

Businesses participating in the program may not apply for a temporary banner of sales event immediately following the conclusion of the Special Event Permit. Participating businesses will be required to wait 14 days before applying.

All proposed temporary signs shall conform to City Code Article 409.12