The theme of Sierra Vista’s 55th Annual Christmas Light Parade is “Cowboy Christmas”. The Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the parade, is recommending participants “put on your Stetsons, chaps and spurs” to welcome the holiday season.
What better place for an authentic cowboy Christmas than Sierra Vista, where the Wild West is still alive? Sierra Vista is home of the Cowboy Poetry movement, which sponsors a cowboy poetry writing program in the town’s schools.
Sierra Vista hosts the annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music gathering. Members of the Sierra Vista Cowboy Church saddle up for weekly family ranch events. Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista is an Army fort that protected settlers during the Indian Wars. It is now a national monument.
Dozens of floats will roll by, some in excess of 50 feet long. Big rigs have long been a part of the parade. They will be fully decked out with Christmas lights. There will be vintage pickup trucks, ranchers’ flatbeds, vintage tractors and horse-drawn Conestoga wagons. Utility vehicles, fire trucks and other service vehicles will carry country musicians, local beauty queens and plenty of Santa’s elves.
The local schools and volunteer organizations do their part. This is an old-fashioned town parade written very large. The Fort Huachuca Panthers High School marching band plays Christmas tunes. The Tombstone Vigilantes, an historical reenactment society, will be marching in the parade in full cowboy regalia. The Tombstone Chamber of Commerce will be right behind them.
This year’s Grand Marshal is Henry Stephen “Steve” Conroy, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. After retirement, Conroy rode with B Troop 4th Cavalry, a memorial Army unit stationed at Fort Huachuca. During his years with the troop, they performed locally and marched in the Rose Bowl parade.
Conroy and his wife are active volunteers in the community. Conroy has been co-chair of the Cochise Cowboy Poetry gathering for ten years. His credentials for this year’s “Cowboy Christmas” theme parade are impeccable. He is himself a cowboy poet and sings Western songs with a group called the Outriders.
Santa And Mrs. Claus
Santa and Mrs. Claus will not show up until the very end of the parade, pulling up in the Chamber of Commerce float. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive in Sierra Vista by helicopter early in the day.
They spend half the day greeting children and visiting local businesses. It’s easy to catch them for a moment, before they become part of the biggest spectacle in town.
The parade steps off at 5:30 p.m. and travels down Fry Boulevard. Onlookers line the street. It’s best to get there early for a good viewing spot.
This is an after-dark parade, and every entrant is required to carry lights. Music is highly encouraged. There’s quite a competition for biggest and most spectacular float. Prizes are awarded in various categories. Every entrant is asked to donate an unwrapped toy to the fire department’s toy drive.