Construction of the renowned Tumbleweed Tree is complete, holiday lights and decorations are up throughout Downtown Chandler and the holiday spirit is growing in anticipation of the month-long Chandler for the Holidays to celebrate the season.
Health precautions may limit the size and scope of some activities this year. Still, the holiday season is rolling on with a packed calendar, presented by the city, Downtown Chandler Community Partnership and a multitude of community partners and local businesses.
A list of Chandler for the Holidays events is below, and details can be found at chandleraz.gov/chandlerfortheholidays.
The Downtown Chandler Sugarland, an interactive display of holiday decorations designed for the whole family, is open and runs through Jan. 3. In the magic of Sugarland, visitors can snap a selfie or family photo in the candy sleigh next to the famous Tumbleweed Tree, take a ride down the fruit roll-up slide, climb over the giant marshmallows spilling out a huge cup of hot chocolate and dance through the shimmering candy canes.
Over the following five weeks, there will be many more events and opportunities for holiday fun and revelry across the city, including Chandler Fashion Center, Chandler Museum and Dr. A.J. Chandler Park. A Farmers Market in the park is every Saturday, 9 a.m-1 p.m.
This year’s Tumbleweed Tree Lighting on Dec. 5 will be virtual only. An online live-stream of “Tumbleweed Tree Lighting: A Reimagined Tradition” will be available on the city’s official social media channels and broadcast on Chandler Channel 11. This holiday spectacular is chock-full of musical performances and stories about Chandler traditions. Santa and city employees also stop by to bring messages of goodwill and holiday cheer.
The unique Tumbleweed Tree is popular for keepsake photos with family and friends. On Dec. 8, 13, 17 and 20 you can have a free photo taken by a professional photographer that is available for download. Reservations are required at chandleraz.gov/special-events.
Chandler’s most iconic and beloved holiday tradition is featured in “Tumbleweed Tree: A Very Chandler Christmas,” a photography exhibition at the Chandler Museum beginning Saturday, Dec. 5. Admission to the museum is free. This exhibition will be on view through Jan. 10.
In 1957, Chandler resident Earle Barnum and others spearheaded construction of cotton-boll wreaths and a tree made from tumbleweeds to decorate Downtown Chandler during the Christmas season. The Tumbleweed Tree has since become a long-standing holiday tradition, attracting international renown and highlighting the community spirit and ingenuity of the city and its residents.
This Chandler Museum exhibition showcases photographs, postcards and memories of the 60-plus-year history of the tree. Guests will see how its construction has developed over the years, revel in some of the national attention this tradition has garnered and find out what happened one year when the tree burned down shortly before the lighting ceremony. Visitors can share their own memories of this tradition.
“Our Tumbleweed Tree is a proud tradition for the entire Chandler and East Valley community to enjoy, and a destination where families make memories each year,” said Hermelinda Llamas, special events coordinator for the city. “This holiday season will be very exciting, thanks to the Chandler Museum hosting this exhibit. It’s a must-see attraction.”
Museum Exhibits curator Jillian Nakornthap has lived in Chandler only a short time is fascinated by her research for this exhibition.
“Since coming to Chandler in January, I’ve discovered many interesting tidbits about this community, but the ones I find most endearing are the traditions that bring this community together,” Nakornthap said. “I believe the Chandler Tumbleweed Tree is an annual tradition that has cemented this community as a family-focused, quirky and loveable town.”
To complement the exhibition, the new Museum Store will feature Tumbleweed Tree-theme merchandise by Arizona artisans. The Museum Store is in the lobby of the Chandler Museum at 300 S. Chandler Village Drive. The store is open during Museum hours, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 1-5 p.m. More information is available online at chandleraz.gov/museum or by calling 480-782-2717.
There are opportunities to share holiday spirit with others who may need a boost of kindness. ’Tis the Season for Giving Food Drive, through Dec. 22, will welcome donations of non-perishable food items at several drop-off locations, including Tumbleweed Recreation Center, the Saturday Farmers Market and Sibley’s West: The Chandler and Arizona Gift Shop. Donations will benefit the community food bank at AZCEND, which also is accepting donations, at 345 S. California St. downtown.
On Dec. 5, the Chandler Fire Department’s annual Holiday Toy Drive collects new, unwrapped toys that will brighten the season for children who might otherwise go without this year. The toy drive is at Chandler Fashion Center, with some changes this year to promote a safe environment. The highlight will be the Enchanted Fire Village, a special holiday wonderland built by Chandler firefighters, with decorated fire trucks. Details are available at chandleraz.gov/fire.
Chandler for the Holidays Calendar of Events
Through Jan. 3: Downtown Chandler Interactive holiday decorations and Downtown Chandler Holiday Lights – Throughout downtown area.
Through Dec. 22: ’Tis the Season for Giving Food Drive – Drop-off locations at Sibley’s West: The Chandler & Arizona Gift Shop, Farmers Market and Tumbleweed Recreation Center.
Dec. 4-20: S’more Holiday Fun, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Chandler Fashion Center – Backyard campsite games, fireside stories, giveaways and s’mores, of course.
Dec. 5: Chandler Fire Department Toy Drive, 2-8 p.m., Chandler Fashion Center – Donate a new, unwrapped toy and get to visit the Enchanted Fire Village.
Dec. 5: Tumbleweed Tree Lighting: A Re-Imagined Tradition (Virtual only this year, but a video of it live streams on Chandler’s social media), 6 p.m. – The Tumbleweed Tree will be lighted every evening Dec. 5-Jan. 10.
Dec. 5, 12 and 19: Downtown Chandler Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Dr. A.J. Chandler Park West –Holiday music and food.
Dec. 5-Jan. 10: Tumbleweed Tree: A Very Chandler Christmas, Chandler Museum – Exhibit featuring the history of Chandler’s Tumbleweed Christmas Tree.
Dec. 8 and 17: Family Memories: Pictures in front of the Tumbleweed Tree, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Dr. A.J. Chandler Park – Reservation only at chandleraz.gov/special-events.
Dec. 8 and 17: Give Back Night Food Drive Collection, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Dr. A.J. Chandler Park.
Dec. 12: Sippin’ Santas Pub Crawl, 1-6 p.m., downtown Chandler – Drink specials, food and fun at the jolliest bars and restaurants in town.
Dec. 13 and 20: Family Memories: Pictures in front of the Tumbleweed Tree, 1-4 p.m., Dr. A.J. Chandler Park – Reservation only at chandleraz.gov/special-events.
Dec. 19: Under the Stars, Chandler Center for the Arts at the Museum, Holly Jolly Christmas, 7 p.m. (sold out).