City Week

A Penny Given...

Eighth Annual KIIM-FM 1,000,000 Penny Pitch
6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 22, and Friday, Dec. 23
Foothills Mall, 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd.
(800) 944-7611 Ext. 305

KIIM-FM 99.5 is one of Tucson's premier country radio stations (OK, it's the only country station, really), which probably means a lot of songs about heartbreak, dead dogs and ex-wives (I don't ever tune in, so I could be wrong). However, KIIM-FM also cares about kids and are again joining Arizona's Children Association in collecting at least 1 million pennies (that's $10,000).

Starting yesterday, KIIM-FM was to begin raising money at the Foothills Mall. According to the press release, the Arizona Children Association "is the state's largest nonprofit child-welfare and behavioral-health organization, meeting the needs of more than 40,000 children and families throughout the state."

The event is in its eighth year and apparently--in years past--you have been doing your part (let's not break the streak now). KIIM-FM has raised almost $25,000 the past three years, which (for the non-mathematicians out there) translates to 2.5 million pennies. So, while you're out getting those last-minute gifts at the overcrowded mall, stop by KIIM-FM's booth and give them your two cents (literally, although I would recommend giving slightly more if possible) for a great cause. --M.P.

Rooftop Santa

Fifth Annual Bryn Mawr Christmas Pageant
6:30 and 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 23
Poets Square Neighborhood, 4352 E. Bryn Mawr Road

There are some Christmas specials that are classics, like A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Then there are the offbeat specials, which manage to be equally classic in their own way. One such special--now in its fifth year--may be the Bryn Mawr Christmas Pageant. Although not technically a Christmas special, it sounds unique and pretty sweet.

According to the press release, these two shows (one at 6:30 p.m. and one at 8 p.m.) are 35-minute productions that include "Santa dancing" and "tossing treats and toys from the rooftop." If that does not conjure up some wacky imagery, I don't know what will. However, Santa will not be forced to dance merely to the thoughts of sugar plums in his head, because the First Brethren Church will be providing live music (and hot chocolate!).

After they enjoy their rooftop-thrown treats and toys--as well as a Santa that can get down--the little ones can sit with the big guy for a photo opportunity. Plus, this Saint Nick isn't your average mall Santa; unlike some of those, he has a real beard. This event is free, which is merry awesome, but I'm told the experience is enhanced if you attend with a can of food in hand. Your donation will benefit the Community Food Bank, and you may just secure your spot on Santa's nice list. --M.P.

Focusing on Nature

Parks in Focus Exhibit
10 to 5 P.m. Tuesday-Saturday; Noon to 5 p.m., Sunday; through Sunday, Jan. 8
Tucson Children's Museum, 200 S. Sixth Ave.

Most field trips, frankly, suck. Those familiar with The Simpsons will note the infamous box-factory field trip as a glaring, albeit fictional, example. However, for about a dozen middle school students from the Tucson Boys and Girls Clubs, field trips are a way to commune with nature, take photos and, eventually, learn Web design.

Since 1999, Parks in Focus, a Morris K. Udall Foundation program, has been taking lucky children on five-day field trips to state and national parks. During the trips, the students receive cameras and basic photography skills to capture--as they learn about it--the environment around them. After the field trips, the Udall Foundation staff teaches the students how to create their own Web pages with their photos and excerpts from their trip journals.

Currently, 50 of the photographs are on display at the Tucson Children's Museum, and will be until January 8 (if you want a sample of the 2004 trip, check it out online). The TCM is displaying photos from the 2004 and 2005 trips. This year, the students were able to capture the majesty of locales like Fay Canyon, Red Rock State Park, Doe Mountain, the Grand Canyon, Slide Rock State Park and Montezuma's Castle. To check out some field trips that didn't suck, through the work of amateur photographers, head to the Tucson Children's Museum. --M.P.

Will Light for Food

Winterhaven Festival of Lights
5:30 to 10 p.m., through Monday, Dec. 26.
Winterhaven (bounded By Prince Road, Country Club Road, Fort Lowell Road and Tucson Boulevard)
622-0525 (Community Food Bank); 327-0111 (Winterhaven Festival Chair)

If you've lived in Tucson for some time, then you're familiar with Winterhaven's Festival of Lights. If you're new to town or a drifter, here's the rundown: Winterhaven is a Tucson neighborhood that--for 56 years--has transformed itself into a winter wonderland of decorated houses this time of year. Since Dec. 10, the neighborhood has invited the community onto their streets to check out the light show--it continues until Dec. 26--and it is pretty spectacular.

Depending on the night, those who venture into Winterhaven can walk, drive or take an ever-rustic haywagon ride ($15 a person, with children 2 or younger riding free). However, do not be mistaken; Winterhaven is not just a monumental tribute to wondrous seasonal lights. There's also a cause to be championed. Tucson's Community Food Bank benefits greatly from money and canned food contributed at the Winterhaven Festival of Lights.

In fact, last year, the organization raised more than $22,500 in contributions as well as 13,000 pounds of canned and packaged food. 'Tis the season indeed. So, when you decide to stroll through Winterhaven's gorgeously electrified neighborhood, go ahead and bring that can of baked beans or some pocket change with you. It's for a great cause, and you'll think it a small price to pay (technically, you can check out Winterhaven for free) for the sights you'll see. --M.P.