'tis the season
"Cowboy Santa": Sort of a cross between Tom Mix and Saint Nick, this version of the jolly old elf wears an honest-to-gosh ten-gallon hat instead of that little red number adorned with the cotton ball. He delivers gifts and good cheer via horseback in benefits planned for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday and December 9 at Stouffer Renaissance Cottonwoods Resort, 6160 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Abreakfast buffet is included in the cost of admission: $12.95, $5.95 for kids, plus a donation for Crisis Nursery. Reservations are recommended; call 991-1414, extension 721.
Holiday Fun Factory: Several Tempe organizations join forces for this celebration, scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the city's Community Center Complex, 3500 South Rural. Tempe Historical Museum displays antique toys, Tempe Public Library sponsors puppet shows and Pyle Adult Recreation Center presents karaoke sing-alongs. Santa's Workshop will be open for business, and the U.S. Postal Service will be on hand to collect letters bound for the North Pole. Admission is free, but donations of canned goods are accepted. Call 350-5200; TDD number for the hearing-impaired is 350-5050.
My Kids in Sign: West Valley kids ages 8 to 19 make up this group, which presents a program of seasonal songs and dances using American Sign Language. Showtime is 2p.m. Saturday in the auditorium at Glendale Public Library, 5959 West Brown. Admission is free. For details call 435-4938 or 930-3541.
Santa's Hot Line: Helpers from Glendale Adult Center man the phones from 4 to 5 p.m. Monday through December 8. Kids can tellSanta what they want for Christmas; if Mr. Claus is otherwise engaged, callers can leave a message with Mrs. Claus. Call 930-2196.
"Wild Winter Nights": Wildlife World Zoo has zoo lights, too. Like Phoenix Zoo's popular ZooLights event (see Tuesday in Pic Hits), the display features thousands of lights placed strategically around the grounds at the menagerie, 165th Avenue and Northern in Litchfield Park. Unlike Phoenix Zoo, Wildlife World Zoo plans to let some of its critters, including white tigers Sir Lunge-a-Lot and Mrs. Lunge-a-Lot, stay up late and enjoy theshow. Other highlights include visits by Santa Claus and his reindeer, special Wildlife Encounters shows and live entertainment. "Wild Winter Nights" continue from 5:30 to 9:30 nightly, through February 3. Special admission is $4, free for kids age 2 and under. Call 935-9453.
arts and minds
"Abracadabra": The second entry in Phoenix Symphony's Mervyn's California Family Concert Series features illusionist Brad Zinn, magician Rick Wilson and the orchestra, conducted by Clotilde Otranto. Showtime is 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets are $6 and $8, available at the symphony box office and Dillard's. Call 264-6363.
"Rabbits, Carrots and Whales": The latest installment in City of Tempe's monthly Saturday Performing Arts Series, which introduces children to the performing arts, starts at 10a.m. Saturday at Edna Vihel Activity Building, 3340South Rural. This time, Tears of Joy puppet theatre is featured. Admission is $2 for kids age 2 and up; one adult is admitted free with each child. Call 350-5287; TDD number for the hearing-impaired is 350-5050.
at the museum
"The Great Russian Dinosaurs": Mesa Southwest Museum, 53 North Macdonald, presents this touring exhibition. It features skeletons, skulls and dozens of other specimens, many of which have never been displayed in the West. The installation continues through February 4. Call 644-2230.
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"Ornament Geometry" and "Computer Works": In the former, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, through December 16, at Arizona Science Center, 147 East Adams, kids create ornaments based on geometric forms; participation is free with regular admission, plus a fee to cover the cost of materials. "Computer Works" explores the elements required to run a computer and how they relate to one another; it continues indefinitely. Call 256-9518.
"Southwestern Ornaments": In these workshops at Heard Museum, 22 East Monte Vista, kids create their own designs based on elements from the area in which we live. The sessions are slated for 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 4p.m. Saturday. Fee is $5. Preregistration is required; call 251-0212.
on the stage
Great Arizona Puppet Theater: Final performances of The Christmas Mouse are at 10 a.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the theatre, 3302 North Seventh Street. The Elves and the Shoemaker opens at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Call 277-1275.
A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail: Valley Youth Theatre presents a seasonal version of the A.A. Milne story in which Eeyore misplaces his tail. This week's performances are at7:30 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday at the group's venue at Tower Plaza Shopping Center, 3883 East Thomas. The production continues through December 17. Call 267-3880.