I don’t know how I managed to accomplish hosting a cookie exchange party and visit Winterhaven during one of the busiest weekends, but I did. It seems that I’ve been living every moment of life to its fullest. It’s been a little stressful at times but so well worth it. Hosting a cookie exchange only meant that I needed to make a trip to the grocery store to purchase some food for a light lunch, and a couple of items that I needed for my cookie recipe that I did not have in my pantry. The cookie exchange party consisted of 4 bakers (people who actually baked a cookie on location) and about 4 other merriment makers. We baked and exchanged 4 types of cookies from 1 pm until 5 pm.
At 6 o’clock I put on my coat then ventured out to buy a hot cocoa then be at my sister’s house to carpool over to Winterhaven. This year was the 70th annual Winterhaven Festival of Lights.
In 1949 CB Richards created a cooperative water company and a modern residential development north of what was Tucson at the time. By 1957 all but 19 of the 257 original lots had been developed.
The Festival of Lights began in 1949. Mr. Richards was inspired to create the Festival after visiting a similar display in Beverly Hills, California in the 1930s. He purchased the first set of Christmas lights in 1949 and donated them to the neighborhood. He purchased the Aleppo pines from a local nursery that was going out of business. They were planted at regular intervals throughout the neighborhood and electrical connections were hooked up near each tree for the lights.
For the first few years of the festival Richards personally judged all the displays and the winner was awarded $100.00. After he moved to San Diego, Richards continued to visit Winterhaven for the Festival of Lights.
The Festival has been held continuously since 1949 except for one year during the 1970’s energy crisis when the residents of Winterhaven voted to stay dark.
70th Annual Festival of Lights
This will be the 70th year for the Winterhaven Festival of Lights – one of the longest running festivals of its kind in the country.
The Festival of Lights celebrates the holiday season in Tucson and is visited by hundreds of thousands of people from all over southern Arizona. Moreover, the Festival is one the most important events for the Community Food Bank in Tucson. In 2018, $27,090 and 56,238 pounds of food were donated to the Food Bank through the Festival.
The subsidy from the City of Tucson that has been used to pay for safety and traffic control has been discontinued because of the City’s severe budget issues. Rather than cancel the Festival, we are turning to the Community for its support.