Shoppers on Morley Avenue took a break from their purchases last Friday afternoon to stroll through the new Christmas display that the City of Nogales set up for the holiday season in Karam Park.

An array of child-size houses line the walkways at the park’s southern entrance, each decorated differently with Christmas wreaths, lights, poinsettias and Santa Clauses.

“My idea is to attract more people from different places – people from Patagonia, Tubac, Phoenix and Nogales, Sonora, of course,” Councilwoman Esther Melendez-Lopez said of the project. “The Christmas parade is a nice attraction but it’s only a one-day event, so we needed something more.”

The city provided a total of 20 houses, along with the Christmas lights, to illuminate the park while people visit the area for their regular holiday shopping.

On Friday afternoon, the second day after all the houses were finally set up, families showed their excitement and enthusiasm over the new display, some parents taking photos of their children while they posed in front of the homes.

Christmas village

The Lincoln Elementary School house display included a Candyland-themed signpost.

The Nogales Unified School District participated in the project with most of its schools each decorating a house, as well as other local organizations including the Nogales Mercado, Mexican Consulate, Santa Cruz Training Programs and the Boys and Girls Club.

Melendez-Lopez added that several businesses reached out to the city expressing their desire to participate. However, space was limited this time.

“We didn’t include everyone because this is the pilot program, so you can’t start out too big with the pilot,” she said, adding that the city plans to make the Christmas Village an annual event and slowly expand it each year to come. “There needs to be more events like this in the city because it’s a part of us, it’s our culture.”

Letters to Santa

Marco Antonio Flores, a 70-year-old resident at the Bowman Senior Residences, put the final touches on the residences’ entry throughout the afternoon, seeking to depict the the center’s unique identity.

Christmas village

Bowman resident Marco Antonio Flores shows the Christmas letters that a few of his fellow residents wrote, reminding Santa Claus of the gifts they never received. The letters were inserted in a small mailbox on the front of their display, a part of the Christmas Village at Karam Park.

One of the windows at the side of the Bowman house depicted a couple of grandparents gathered by a chimney, a concept brainstormed by Flores himself and completed by two artists living at the center.

The one feature that everyone was most excited and proud of, he added, were the letters to Santa that a few of the residents wrote.

Bowman Christmas letters

Several Bowman residents wrote letters to Santa to include in their house display for the Christmas Village at Karam Park.

“When somebody brought in this miniature mailbox, that’s when I got the idea (for the residents) to write down to Santa what it was that they never received as a child,” he said. “For example, mine was that I never got my BB gun.”

Six other residents participated in writing their letters to Santa, a few mentioning that they never received the rag doll that they wanted as a child.

“Santa, you never brought me the bicycle that I wanted so badly. Now I’m an elderly woman and wouldn’t be able to use it. Anyway, thank you for so much,” wrote Magda, a Bowman resident.

Bowman Christmas letters

“Santa, you never brought me the bicycle that I wanted so badly. Now I’m an elderly woman and wouldn’t be able to use it. Anyway, thank you for so much,” wrote Magda, a Bowman resident.

Flores added that the idea behind the letters was to preserve the culture of the Bowman Senior Residences, rather than simply making the house look pretty.

“We didn’t want to go and just hodgepodge the whole thing. I wanted to make sure that it becomes representative of the age and wisdom of the people who live here,” Flores said.

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