The annual Surprise Party winter celebration is going remote this year.
The 19th edition of the Surprise Party has events planned over more than a week, instead of one weekend at Surprise Stadium.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the regular Surprise Party celebration was one of several community events canceled this year because of the worldwide virus.
City officials are still trying to make it a festive event with a video tree-lighting ceremony, cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus and a chance to meet Santa at a drive-thru event.
This year’s festivities will take place between Friday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 13.
It begins at 7 p.m. the first night with the virtual tree lighting ceremony.
The decorating session with Mrs. Claus is scheduled for 6:30 p.m Monday, Dec. 7.
For that, the city has partnered with Boyer Bakery to provide 150 cookie decorating kits to the first 150 decorators.
Kits will be available for pick up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 or from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Parks and Recreation Office, 15960 N. Bullard Ave.
Virtual bingo is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8. The holiday edition of the game requires pre-registration.
Pre-registration is also required for Zoom calls with Santa between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9.
Registration for both events can be done at surpriserec.surpriseaz.gov.
The artists from WHAM will be getting into the action at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10. The virtual holiday-themed art and crafts event will open up craft kits for pickup from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Parks and Recreation Office, beginning Monday, Nov. 30 while supplies last.
The evening of Friday, Dec. 11 will include a Santa drive-thru at Surprise Stadium.
Between 6 and 8 p.m. participants can drive by in their cars. The first 200 will receive goodie bags from Santa’s helpers.
The final two nights of the celebration will feature home light decorations across Surprise. City officials are calling it the “Light up the Night House Decorating Contest” with gift cards up for grabs.
Structures will be judged in the following categories: best theme, best show, best traditional holiday décor and best business.
The first-place winner in each category will receive a $100 gift card, while second-place winners will get a $50 gift card.
To enter, residents must complete the online entry form or call 623-222-2000 by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9.
The city plans to post a map at surpriseaz.gov/surpriseparty on Thursday, Dec. 10, so residents can drive around and view the contest participants.
All of the Surprise Party events held live will be aired on Surprise TV online and the city of Surprise Parks and Recreation Facebook Page.
On-demand video playback will be available for recorded events at surpriseaz.gov/surpriseparty.