On Nov. 24, carolers, an orchestra and Scottsdale residents gathered to witness the annual lighting of the holiday tree at Scottsdale Waterfront.
The second that the specially designed Christmas tree and its one million customizable lights illuminated the rosy-cheeked faces of the awestruck crowd, Scottsdazzle had officially begun.
Scottsdazzle is a month-long holiday extravaganza comprised of themed festivities throughout Old Town Scottsdale.
This year, the City of Scottsdale – with the help of merchants, galleries and businesses throughout Old Town – has introduced a couple of new events.
One was Feliza Navidad Fiesta, which took place on Dec. 1.
The free event, which featured tamale tasting and live entertainment by mariachi bands, was added to recognize Scottsdale’s Mexican heritage.
“That area of Scottsdale was truly where the Hispanics lived back in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s,” said Karen Churchard, director of the City of Scottsdale Tourism & Events Department.
“We have the Old Adobe Mission there and Los Olivos restaurant,” Churchard added. “We decided to do something around the Mexican heritage and have it be more authentic.”
The fiesta replaced Cowboy Christmas, which Old Town merchants didn’t like.
“We were meeting with the Historic Old Town group and a couple of the gentlemen who have had businesses there for many, many years said, ‘That event was terrible. It was awful,’” Churchard recalled.
The Java Jingle Crawl is also new to Scottsdazzle this year.
The free, coffee shop-hopping event takes place Dec. 22 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and features tastings at six coffee shops in Old Town.
“We have some great independent coffee houses in Old Town that have a local flavor to them, and that’s who we reached out to,” Churchard said.
Schmooze Workspace and Café, the newest coffee shop on the block that opened in March, will take part in the Java Jingle Crawl.
The coffee shop is unique to the Old Town area, as it has ample workspace, restaurant space and two outdoor patios.
“The two gorgeous outdoor patios complimented by water, fire and landscaping will transport you to what I jokingly call Schmoozetanical Gardens,” said Steve Simonelli, partner of Schmooze.
Schmooze, located just off Fifth Avenue and Marshall Way, will offer a crowd favorite: its cold brew infused with nitrogen.
Other coffee shops taking part in the Java Jingle Crawl include Berdenas, Cartel Coffee Lab, Fourtillfour Coffee, Press Coffee, Regroup Coffee & Bicycles and SIP Coffee & Beer House.
Old Town Scottsdale Farmer’s Market will feature a Scottsdazzle booth where shoppers can find buttons, candy canes and free gift-wrapping services, while supplies last.
The farmer’s market will also have live music every week, including a performance by jazz musician Pete Pancrazi. Plus, Mrs. Claus will be in attendance on Dec. 22 with crafts and cookies for the first 100 kids.
“Many times, the weather is so beautiful in Scottsdale during the holidays, it’s easy to forget ‘‘tis the season,’” said Laura Minnick, Old Town Scottsdale Farmer’s Market manager. “Scottsdazzle’s glitter and festivities keep us in the mood even when it’s warm and sunny.”
The Gold Palette Artwalk returns to Scottsdazzle as well.
On Dec. 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., art galleries in Old Town will open its doors and host special artists’ receptions and serve holiday-themed beverages. Throughout the event, carolers will be out and about singing festive holiday songs, and kids can visit with Santa, too.
“We’re always trying to make it more attractive for people to want to come down into downtown and visit the galleries and all the other business down here and keep it fresh and fun,” said French Thompson, president of the Scottsdale Gallery Association and owner of French Designer Jeweler on Main Street.
The Gold Palette Artwalks kicked off in October and take place eight times per year.
Each event is held on a Thursday night and adheres to a specific theme. For instance, last month’s event highlighted contemporary art.
“By us having these wonderful, thematic Gold Palette Artwalks we can promote and highlight and have them be a little more special, we’re continuing with that tradition that was started 40 years ago of having something that the neighborhood can do on a Thursday night,” Thompson said.
The City of Scottsdale began planning Scottsdazzle on April 1 with two goals in mind.
While attracting tourists was one, “first and foremost, the reason for doing it is for our citizens, our community – to be able to have a place to go and celebrate the holidays,” Churchard said.