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Glendale Glitters celebrates 20 years

Historic downtown sparkles for the holidays

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Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 11:00 am

It is not just the 1.5 million lights filling 16 blocks of historic downtown Glendale with joy this Glendale Glitters season, but the tradition. Year after year, families gather for the annual tradition of strolling downtown, sipping on hot chocolate, and celebrating the festivities West Valley residents have come to know. Families are ready for the fun and to see what this year’s 20th anniversary Glendale Glitters has in store for them during the kick-off event 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30 in historic downtown.

In past years, Glendale Glitters commemorated the state’s centennial, featuring guest Gov. Jan Brewer, and just last year, lever to the lights was turned on by former mayor Elaine Scruggs and Arizona Cardinal Patrick Peterson. This year will be just as exciting as last, featuring Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who will be joining Mayor Jerry Weiers and councilmembers on stage Nov. 29 to flip the switch, transforming downtown into light.

Being Coyotes team captain for the past nine seasons, Doan has the longest tenure of any current player on the team and played 17 seasons in the NHL. Highlights of his career include being named an NHL All Star in 2004 and 2009, and playing for Team Canada in the 2006 Olympics. Doan is a respected community member off the ice, winning the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2012. The award, selected by the former hockey legend, is awarded to an NHL player who has demonstrated superior leadership within their sport, and who leads by positive example through on-ice performance, motivation of team members and a dedication to community activities and charitable causes.

Visitors of all ages will delight in holiday entertainment with free admission and free shuttles, delectable food, hand-crafted holiday gifts, a children’s winter wonderland and petting zoo, shopping and, of course, visits with Jolly Ol’ St. Nick. The always-entertaining stage show will feature a tribute to special moments and guests from the past 20 years, as it counts down to the lighting ceremony.

Twenty years ago, Glendale debuted its hometown holiday light display in historic Murphy Park, expanding on a traditional tree-lighting event that took place in the early days of the city’s history. Today, the event has grown to become a beloved holiday tradition that draws more than 200,000 people annually over a several week period. The first event was attended by about 10,000 people. Today, the event is attended by 75,000 people during opening weekend. The first year, there were 25,000 lights in the park. Today, there are 1.5 million lights spanning 16 blocks.

For the special celebration opening night 5:30 p.m. Nov. 29, the “Countdown to Glendale Glitters” stage will feature a video tribute to 20 years of the holiday event in which past special guests were invited to participate, including Hall of Fame broadcaster and Voice of the Phoenix Suns Al McCoy, who participated in the inaugural year’s festivities in 1994, and Gov. Brewer, who appeared for the event during Arizona’s Centennial year. Both McCoy and Brewer are residents of Glendale. The show will feature a performance by The Dancing Dads, a group that performed in 1994, among other entertainers.

The holiday magic continues with more events in downtown, from 6 to 10 p.m. each Friday and Saturday through Dec. 21 enjoy the following:

  • Dec. 6 to 7 : Glendale’s Spirit of Giving Weekend
  • Dec. 13 to 14 : Glendale’s Winter Wonderland Weekend
  • Dec. 20 to 21: Glendale’s Jingle Bell Rockin’ Nights

Horse and carriage rides will run nightly during non-event nights, 6 to 9 p.m. Dec.1 through Jan. 10, (depending on weather and demand). The carriage ride line forms at 58th Avenue and Glenn Drive. Rides cost $25 per carriage (up to six people) and takes residents through six blocks of historic downtown. Carriage rides will not be available during event nights.

The glittering magic of Glendale’s holiday display remains lit nightly 4 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 11. For more information, call 623-930-2299.

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