Heart of a Gypsy part 6 - Prescott, Arizona
HOW DID I GET HERE?
In 2008, I was asked to cover a store in Prescott Valley, Arizona. As luck would have it I was traveling down Interstate 40 when I heard the news over the radio that there was a white out (snow storm where you cant see the road) before the turn to highway 89 to Prescott Valley. They closed I-40 before the turn off. All the traffic was rerouted down highway 93. This meant that I would have to drive through Prescott to get to Prescott Valley. There was snow on the ground about ten miles after the 93 exit. We drove the longer route and some time around midnight we entered the cutest town I have ever seen. There were Christmas lights in all the trees around court house plaza . The court house itself looked like it came out of back to the future. My son turned to me and said “Mom I like this place, can we live here?” If it were not for that white out we would have never seen Prescott during that trip. Six months later I accepted the transfer to Prescott Valley.
The signs in Prescott say “Prescott Arizona everyone’s home town” I would have to agree. The downtown area is full of shops all within walking distance of the courthouse. There is always something going on in Prescott. Craft fairs and free concerts are a regular occurrence.
ANNUAL COURTHOUSE LIGHTING
My favorite activity is the courthouse lighting. Every year the story of the birth of Jesus Christ is read to a crowd of 2,000 to 4,000 people. Local high school choirs sing carols and at the end of story the courthouse and surrounding grounds are lit. To say this is a beautiful sight would be an understatement. Most years the court house lighting is on a cold winter night so we have developed the tradition of getting hot chocolate and then walking to the courthouse.
We have spent a lot of time downtown exploring shops and eating. Mama Edda’s Pizza makes the best east coast deep dish pizza, Pearl’ Place is great Bar-b-que, and for organic food and atmosphere you can’t beat the Raven Cafe. The shops downtown are almost identifiable by street. Cortez Street has the best antique stores. Recently I came across a real street light, old steel roller skates and lots of blown glass cups (these are my favorite). Of course Prescott is also home of the infamous “whiskey row”. There are about five bars on that one block intermingled with gift shops and tourist traps. For people who are not from this area the fourth picture down is of the old Chinese underground section of Prescott. Today the brick paved road is home to specialty shops but back in the old West this alley was the walk way for the Chinese population that did most for the service jobs in town. It is one of the more interesting places to see in downtown.
Prescott is also a good place to hike the trails and feed the ducks. Granite creek runs right through the middle of the downtown area. There is a path that also runs along the creek all the way to Granite Park. This trail is a favorite of mountain bikers and joggers. Once you are down on the creek level an amazing thing happens, you forget that you are downtown. We went north and eventually found a charming bridge.
The streets for five blocks in any direction from downtown have historic Victorian and row homes that date back to the late 1800’s early 1900’s. There were a few things I noticed about people in Prescott, they all have dogs and they all love art. Art is everywhere in this town from the sides of buildings to the large high end galleries. Street performers are usually down on courthouse square. Any type of art imaginable can be found here from welding to wax work.
There are many bed and breakfasts downtown as well as the larger chain hotels. Or for the adventurous people there are camp grounds all over the Prescott area at the lakes. A calendar of events is on the Prescott web site http://www.cityofprescott.net/. I hope you enjoy your visit to everyone’s hometown… maybe you will make it your hometown too!