Head on down to the Flagstaff Visitor Center’s annual Snowflake Festival this weekend

SABRINA GRIMALDI

While ice skating is available all year long at Jay Lively Activity Center, the Flagstaff Visitor Center has another holiday option available during the month of December. Every year, the Snowflake Festival, put on by the Flagstaff Visitor Center, commences the beginning of the Skate at the Station and the start of the holiday season.

This year, the Snowflake Festival is Saturday, Dec. 10, from 12 pm to 4 pm This free event is part of the grand opening of the Skate at the Station novelty ice rink but also offers Flagstaff families even more holiday fun. This year, it will offer patrons a chance to play winter games, participate in activities and crafts, take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus and offer several chances to give back to the community.

The Flagstaff Visitor Center is funded through the City of Flagstaff. This means that this funding gives the center a chance to create events that are accessible and affordable for all. The Snowflake Festival is no exception. Unlike other winter festivals and Santa-picture opportunities, the event is completely free for the community. Patrons are able to take free photos with Santa on their own cameras or phone or purchase a Polaroid picture for $1. In a day and age where capitalism and overconsumption are pushed to their limit and families struggle yearly to buy gifts, a free event is a refreshing change. Visitor center manager Jessica Lawrence said this opportunity is important to the center and all of their partners that make it possible.

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“We’re focused on creating programs for families that are free or low cost without spending money that is already tight around the holiday,” Lawrence said. “Give the kids an opportunity to visit with Santa if they haven’t already. If you go to the mall or somewhere for Santa photos, it’s great, but it’s expensive. Here, you can do it for a low cost and that includes anyone who wants to participate.”

This year, the Visitor Center will have a raffle with The Shadows Foundation, a foundation that provides financial assistance and services for those affected by a life-threatening disease. There will also be a Law Enforcement Toy Drive, in which patrons can donate unwrapped new packaged toys for local children in need. With Flagstaff Family Food Center, there will be a drop box for the 2022 giving advent calendar, where people can donate dry food items for community members in need. Mariah Castillo, Visitor Services Specialist Events Lead, said this event gives everyone an opportunity to give back and interact.

“During the holiday season, seeing that giving is so great,” Castillo said. “I’m very excited. This is actually my first time putting on the Snowflake Festival for The Visitor Center. We interact with plenty of guests throughout the day during our regular job but I think it will be exciting to interact with Flagstaff families and get to know the locals. We actually tend to notice that we get a lot of out-of-state visitors from out of town to do these things, which is so exciting.”

While the Visitor Center employees are used to seeing visitors and tourists on a daily, Lawrence said this event is one of their favorite times of the year because they get to interact with the locals.

“We always have a good turnout,” Lawrence said. “Families are having fun, they can make their crafts. We have ornaments they can decorate and then they can go home and hang it on their tree. The kids always love that and are excited they made it. We always have tons of visitors in our doors but it’s only a few times a year that we get to interact with the local community. It’s so nice to see families and kids. It brings people downtown and puts them in that winter holiday spirit without having to spend money that is already tight, and just have fun.”

To learn more about the Snowflake Festival, the giving opportunities and Skate at the Station, head over to https://www.flagstaffarizona.org/plan-your-trip/visitor-center/

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