Holiday events dominate Dec. 6 calendars in Queen Creek and San Tan Valley

UPDATE: Weather forces school district to postpone PolarFest

PolarFest has been postponed one week due to the wet conditions of the event site, according to a press release issued today by the Florence Unified School District.

The holiday event has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Dec. 13 and will take place at the same time and location as originally scheduled: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Walker Butte K-8 School, 29697 N. Desert Willow Road in San Tan Valley, according to the release.

For more information about events planned at the PolarFest, see story below.

Two other major events planned for Dec. 6 — the Sixth Annual San Tan Valley Holiday Parade and the Queen Creek Holiday Festival and Parade — will go on as scheduled, according to their organizers.

“We’re still on,” Angela Smith, executive director of the San Tan Valley Chamber of Commerce, said by phone Dec. 4 about the San Tan Valley Holiday Parade. The chamber is presenting the parade with the Johnson Ranch Community Association.

The Queen Creek holiday festivities also are a go, said event organizer Jim Skiotes by phone Dec. 4.

“We are on a hard surface so the weather shouldn’t affect us. To all our friends at the PolarFest, we invite you to join in our activities, and we will look forward to enjoying yours the following weekend,” Mr. Skiotes said.

For complete information about the events, see story below.


An estimated 1,000 people participated in last year’s holiday parade in downtown Queen Creek. The annual procession is one of many holiday events planned for Saturday, Dec. 6, in Queen Creek and San Tan Valley. (Special to Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA/Town of Queen Creek)

An estimated 1,000 people participated in last year’s holiday parade in downtown Queen Creek. The annual procession is one of many holiday events planned for Saturday, Dec. 6, in Queen Creek and San Tan Valley. (Special to Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA/Town of Queen Creek)

Parades, carnivals and tree lightings have been planned for Saturday, Dec. 6, as the communities of Queen Creek and San Tan Valley celebrate the start of the Christmas holiday season with family-friendly events.

A number of firsts have been incorporated into the holiday programs in both communities, say organizers.

Queen Creek Holiday Festival and Parade

A later start time is being introduced for the 32nd Annual Queen Creek Holiday Festival and Parade, according to event organizer Jim Skiotes. This year’s theme is “A Christmas Celebration.”

“We wanted to try something different and we think we will draw considerably more people because of the time change,” Mr. Skiotes said during a phone interview Nov. 25. “The weather will be a little warmer in the afternoon.”

This year’s festival will take place 2-7 p.m. at the Queen Creek Branch Library, 21802 S. Ellsworth Road in Queen Creek (see schedule below). The parade will begin at 3 p.m. Last year’s festival took place 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Also new this year is the lighting of a holiday tree at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 as part of the holiday program, Mr. Skiotes said.

“This year we have a 14-foot tree donated by Desert Horizon Nursery in Queen Creek. It’s exciting to have something brand new,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have (holiday program) committee members who are intelligent and creative people.”

About 70 volunteers are helping put on the program, which is hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Queen Creek and benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley Queen Creek branch at 22411 S. Ellsworth Road, said Mr. Skiotes, a former Kiwanis Club president. The committee is composed of representatives from the Queen Creek Kiwanis Club, the local Boys and Girls Club and volunteers.

He said he expects about 80 vendors at the festival and 60 or more entries with 1,000 participants in the parade.

Admission is free to the festival, which will feature rides, attractions and about 80 vendors. They include: AFC Chiropractic and Physical Medicine; Apple Dumplings Cafe; Arizona State University Preparatory Academy Polytech Schools, Kiwanis Builders Club; Andy’s Candles; Atzin and Atzin; Avon; Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley; Pestmaster Services; CC Valley Angels; Crafty Creations; DePalma’s Team USA Martial Arts; Diamond Resorts International; doTerra; Hazael’s Hands; Hilltree Designs; Lifequest Chiropractic and Massage; Jamba Juice; Jamberry Nails; Janssen Family Chiropractic; Kona Ice; Liberty Mutual Insurance; Memory Expressions; MoMetal Art; Origami Owl; Patricia Pocock; Barbara Rich Insurance; RollinUDesign; Solar Hause; Taino Mobile Cafe; and Younique Cosmetics and Skincare.

The committee is encouraging the vendors to decorate their booth in the festival theme. Booths will be judged and the winner will take home $45, according to the website.

The Queen Creek Kids Marketplace “For Kids by Kids” also will take place at the festival. This event is put on by the town of Queen Creek and enables youths up to 18 years old to sell their gently used games, toys, clothes, bikes and books.

For information, including space availability, call 480-358-3700.

The parade will start at 3 p.m. and conclude about 4:30 p.m. It will begin on Old Ellsworth Road in front of Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant, 22701 S. Ellsworth Road at Sierra Park Boulevard, and will head north past the library to Victoria Lane. It will turn left onto Victoria Lane, where it will end.

The parade committee expects these streets will be affected noon-4 p.m. From noon to 7 p.m., drivers should avoid Ellsworth north of Ocotillo Road to Rittenhouse Road and Victoria Lane between Ellsworth and Ellsworth Loop will be affected by the festival, according to the website.

Photos with Santa Claus will be taken after the parade by 3D Photography and Design and Lia Marie Photography, according to the event website. The 5-inch by 7-inch photos will be available immediately for purchase. The cost will be $12 for the first print and $5 for each additional print, according to the website.

Live entertainment will be provided during the festival from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. The schedule includes:

•2:10 p.m. Queen Creek Elementary School chorus

•2:35 p.m. Jeffrey Foy

•4:15 p.m. Queen Creek Pommies

•4:30 p.m. Jack Barnes Elementary School chorus

•4:55 p.m. 8-Count Dance

•5:20 p.m. Frances Brandon-Pickett Elementary School chorus

•5:45 p.m. Queen Creek Middle School chorus

•6:10 p.m. Benjamin Franklin High School chorus

•6:35 p.m. Drama in Queen Creek holiday sing-along

The Christmas tree lighting ceremony will begin at about 6:15 p.m. at the library, Mr. Skiotes said.

San Tan Valley PolarFest

San Tan Valley’s annual PolarFest has new leadership this year. Carrie Ribeiro and Netty Riggs have taken over the reins from long-time organizer Janet Anderson, who has retired from the position, Ms. Ribeiro said during a phone interview Nov. 24.

Now in its 12th year, PolarFest will take place 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at Walker Butte K-8 School, 29697 N. Desert Willow Road in San Tan Valley.

The $8 wristband fee includes unlimited access to all attractions such as a petting zoo and train ride, according to the event website. It also offsets the cost to produce the event, which Ms. Ribeiro estimated to be $10,000. Wristbands may be purchased at the event.

The chairwomen’s biggest challenge in taking over the holiday event is getting sponsors, Ms. Riggs said during a phone interview Nov. 24.

“When you make a recipe all the time you don’t make notes, you just do it automatically. That’s been a big hurdle for us but we’re making it happen,” Ms. Ribeiro said while discussing Ms. Anderson’s ability to efficiently organize the event after many years.

The women have confirmed several new sponsors this year. Two are the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard and the PCSO Memorial Committee, who are hosting this year’s PolarFest lunch.

The cost is $5, which includes a choice of hamburger or hot dog, chips and a choice of soda or water, PCSO Detective Chris Santos said during a phone interview Nov. 25.

Sales from the lunch will benefit the memorial committee, Detective Santos said. The committee will use the money to offset the cost of producing the annual event commemorating Pinal County’s peace offi-cer memorial, which takes place the second week in May each year, Detective Santos said.

Ms. Ribeiro and Ms. Riggs look forward to adding new events next year. In the meantime, they feel this Saturday’s event will be “great family fun.”

“Thank you to everyone who helped us make this year’s event happen, from the volunteers and people who donated to the sponsors and the vendors,” Ms. Ribeiro said.

This annual community event will feature vendors, pony rides, hay rides, a rock wall, bounce houses, carnival rides, entertainment , a live radio broadcast by 99.1 FM and booths by many of the parent-teacher organizations in the Florence Unified School District. Ms. Riggs said she and Ms. Ribeiro also are working to obtain snow for the event.

Vendors include Athletes in Training; AWARE, Bonanza Educational LLC, CREATE, Chess Emporium, Elements Music, FUSD Volunteers, In Motion Dance, Mad Science, Soccer Shots, Tumble Town, Young Rembrandts and the San Tan Valley Chamber of Commerce.

A cruise for two people will be raffled at the event. It was donated by Diamond Resorts International, Ms. Ribeiro said.

Guests can have their photo taken with Santa Claus at the Santa and Mrs. Claus Candy Land, which will take place throughout the event. It will be presented by FUSD Community Education to benefit its after-school programs. For more information, visit the school district website at

In addition to vendors, three rescue groups will bring animals to the event for qualified people to adopt. They include AZ Care Rescue and Bark Side Rescue. A third organization had not been confirmed as of press time Nov. 26.

The weekly San Tan Valley Farmers Market and Bazaar, 1572 W. Ocotillo Road in San Tan Valley, will be closed Dec. 6 due to the holiday event; however, Ms. Ribeiro said farmers market vendors such as Li’l Farmer Stand, Buttin Fun Farms and Queen Creek Honey will be at PolarFest.

Event security services have been donated by Spartan Investigative Agency while trash bins have been donated by Salt River Project, Ms. Ribeiro said.

Live entertainment will be provided by local performers such as the Dance Spot. Additional entertainers are needed, Ms. Riggs said. To apply, e-mail Ms. Riggs at

Sixth Annual San Tan Valley Holiday Parade

Before heading to PolarFest, San Tan Valley residents and visitors can attend the Sixth Annual San Tan Valley Holiday Parade. It will start at 10 a.m. from the Golf Club at Johnson Ranch, 30761 N. Golf Club Drive in San Tan Valley, travel through the Johnson Ranch community and end at Desert Willow, near Walker Butte K-8 School.

The parade is being presented by the San Tan Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Johnson Ranch Community Association, according to the chamber website:

Parade entry fees are 10 cans of food or a $25 donation to Epic Food Mission to help local residents in need. High school and other bands, cheer and dance teams, golf cart clubs, car clubs, civic and fraternal organizations, churches and all other organizations are welcome to enter.

For more information about the parade, call the chamber at 480-788-7516 or e-mail Angela Smith at

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