Archive for December, 2010

09 Dec 2010

McCormick Stillman Railroad park holiday lights picking up steam

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The McCormick Stillman Railroad is literally 500 yards or so from our Sunny Scottsdale Condo Vacation Rental. Families love riding the train as it meanders through the beautiful display.

This just in…

Peter Kaczmarowski considers the holiday-lights display at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park his annual labor of love.

Kaczmarowski has fond memories of the tradition that blossomed from a small lights display into a premier annual event at the Scottsdale park, with train rides and costumed characters.

When the event was still in its infancy, Kaczmarowski had just joined the city as a railroad engineer.

“My daughter, who turned 21 this year, said she didn’t remember a year that (I) didn’t do it,” said Kaczmarowski, a volunteer.

Holiday Lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park kicks off Friday with a tree-lighting ceremony and related festivities. The annual affair runs nightly through Jan. 1, with the exception of Dec. 24, 25 and 31.

The event already was running in 1986 when Kaczmarowski came on board.”It’s a great event, and the opening night is crowded,” Kaczmarowski said. “We run two trains every night. We bring in entertainment and characters to give people something to watch.”

Fond memories

In its early days, the infrastructure could not always handle the electrical demands of the display, Kaczmarowski said. Blackouts occurred, and “one year, it was actually snowing,” he said.

In the early ’90s, Kaczmarowski decided to string lights over the park’s 1907 Baldwin steam engine.

“That’s the first thing people see when they get out of their cars,” Kaczmarowski said. “I thought, ‘Let’s just cover this thing completely with lights.’ ”

Park recreation supervisor Bob McNair said there are tens of thousands of holiday lights on display, along with kid-friendly exhibits and characters. Santa will be on hand through Dec. 23.

The cost to stage the event is about $90,000, covered by approximately $100,000 in revenue, he said. The city-sponsored event also is supported by the Scottsdale Charros and Scottsdale Railroad and Mechanical Society.

This year’s event boasts a new Snoopy display and a 25-foot-tall inflatable sun with sunglasses. Organizers added costumed volunteers several years ago, he said.

Ann Achtziger, a volunteer and assistant principal of Mohave Middle School, said students and volunteers from the Scottsdale Unified School District dress up as Santa’s helpers and popular children’s characters. Families can take free photos with the characters, she said.

The cost for a train ride is $2 and $1 for a carousel ride.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/2010/12/08/20101208scottsdale-mccormick-railroad-park-holiday-lights.html#ixzz17a0X5INe

06 Dec 2010

Phoenix and Arizona BCS Bowl Game Teams Are Announced!

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Auburn, Oregon in BCS Championship headline Arizona bowl lineup

by Jeff Metcalfe – Dec. 5, 2010 06:30 PM
The Arizona Republic | azcentral.com

When the dust cleared Sunday after bowl selections, Arizona emerged with one of the more-compelling championship games in the 13-year Bowl Championship Series history and a projected $420 million economic bonanza for metro Phoenix.

In addition to No. 1 Auburn and No. 2 Oregon meeting in the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 10, No. 7 Oklahoma will play in the 40th Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 and No. 12 Missouri will be the highest-rated team ever in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 28.

Big East champion Connecticut, which will challenge Oklahoma in the Fiesta, just missed out on the Top 25 in the final BCS standings. Unranked Iowa will make its Arizona bowl debut against Missouri in the Insight, able to draw better teams because of increasing its combined payout to $6.5 million.

“It’s a wonderful display of college football,” Fiesta Bowl president John Junker said. “The matches are all intriguing. The national-championship game is a gigantic contest. The Insight has two very interesting teams that haven’t played much. And the Fiesta Bowl is the mystery game to see what Connecticut can do and how the Big East can play against a very physical Oklahoma team.

“They’re games we think will create tremendous interest.”

They also are expected to draw more than 190,000 to University of Phoenix and Sun Devil stadiums.

The Auburn-Oregon matchup was finalized Saturday when the Tigers dominated South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference title game and the Ducks beat Oregon State in the Civil War.

And the Fiesta pairing was set after Connecticut edged South Florida to clinch the Big East automatic BCS berth and Oklahoma rallied past Nebraska in the Big 12 title game.

That eliminated a possible Orange Bowl matchup of No. 13 Virginia Tech and West Virginia, sending No. 4 Stanford and UConn on cross-country journeys to the Orange and Fiesta instead of remaining closer to home.

So the only remaining drama in the Arizona selections was with the Insight, which had fourth pick among Big 12 teams and last year bypassed Missouri in favor of Iowa State. The Tigers got the nod this time over Nebraska, which fell five spots in the BCS rankings after losing 23-20 to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.

“We have the two highest Big 12 teams (in the Fiesta and Insight),” Junker said. “Nebraska made a point about beating Missouri (31-17), yet you have to take in the whole body of work. We love everything about Nebraska, but it seemed pretty tough to turn down a 12th-ranked team as the highest-ranked team we’ve ever had.”

Junker believes the Auburn-Oregon game could be as memorable as BCS title games between Ohio State-Miami here in 2003 and Texas-USC at the 2005 Rose Bowl.

The unbeatens combined to average more than 92 points and 1,000 yards total offense per game and feature two of the top three Heisman Trophy candidates: favored Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James.

“You know, whether you’re in your second year or your 20th year, it’s just an extremely difficult game to get to,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “You can coach your whole life and never be involved in one of these.”

Chip Kelly also is in his second year as coach at Oregon and in his second BCS game. The Ducks lost 26-17 to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl last season.

“We didn’t intentionally lose the Rose Bowl so we could have fuel for the fire for this year, I can tell you that,” Kelly said. “Obviously, when the last game you play is a loss, there’s always going to be fuel for motivation in the off-season.”

Oklahoma will try to make up for losses to Boise State and West Virginia in the 2007 and ’08 Fiesta Bowls and improve its overall Fiesta record to 2-3.

“We realize the last two games out there we have not been successful so it’s motivation definitely,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “We approach all our bowl games with a very serious demeanor in how we prepare in practice. Hopefully, when we get in the game, we’ll have a chance to play better and maintain the focus throughout the month leading up to it.”

UConn coach Randy Edsall is optimistic that Huskies’ fans will travel well for the school’s first BCS game.

“This is something new for Connecticut. I think our fans have really embraced our move to Division I (in 2000). They want to be able to experience the bowl game at the highest level.”

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/colleges/articles/2010/12/05/20101205college-football-auburn-oregon-bcs-championship-glendale-arizona.html#ixzz17LbzDuMF