Holiday Lights: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Photos by Benjamin Leatherman

Holiday Lights: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

​It's the holiday season, which means lights are everywhere: On your neighbor's house, decorating the local bar, and on buildings of downtown Phoenix. During the buildup to Christmas, Jackalope Ranch will be running the numbers on some of the best and brightest light displays around the Valley.

Holiday Lights: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Photos by Benjamin Leatherman

Thousands upon thousands of colored bulbs aren't the only thing that glow brightly at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in North Scottsdale during the Christmas season. Hundreds of kids drag their parents to the North Scottsdale attraction each night, and their eyes tend to light up when they see all the bright displays and trains wrapped with plenty of illuminated strands.

Although the entire park is decked out with lights, the main attraction at McCormick-Stillman during the holidays is its 15-foot-long narrow-gauge mini-train. During the month of December, the ride's half-mile route around the park contains more Christmas decorations than the holiday section at your local Walgreens.

These lights wind their way beside and underneath the track and past displays of cartoon characters like Dora the Explorer, Bugs Bunny, the Cat in the Hat, and the residents of Sesame Street. There are also rainbow-colored tunnels of light along the way, which give off a trippy glow and resemble something out of Doctor Who.

The Numbers:

Strands and lights: More than 100,000 lights are used throughout the park.

Inflatables: Five 15-foot-high inflatable figures tower over patrons, including a gigantic cowboy and an enormous astronaut. A half-dozen standard-sized inflatables also dot the premesis.

Heading through the tunnel of light at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.
Heading through the tunnel of light at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.
Benjamin Leatherman

Other decorations: The Magma Arizona Railroad locomotive at the gates of the park is adorned with lights and decorations that create anthropomorphic features like a face (a la Thomas the Tank Engine). Firework-like lighting displays are in the trees creating blooms of illumination, strands of LED lights are scattered everywhere, and a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree stetches skyward.

Estimated electric bill: Unknown. Valerie Budnick, an McCormick-Stillman spokesperson, says it isn't a figure that's readily available. "We're run through the city of Scottsdale, so we have no way of knowing exactly how much is spend on electricity,"

Why do you decorate: "It's annual event we've done for over 20 years and its a real fun, inexpensive event we like to do for the community. Seeing Christmas lights by train is quite unique from other Christmas lights events around the Valley," Budnick says.

The holiday lights at Mccormick-Stillman Railroad Park, 7301 East Indian Bend Road in Scottsdale, are on display 6:30-9 p.m. nightly (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) through December 30. Park admission is free, train rides are $2 per person. Click here for more info.

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