December is one of the best times of year in Marana. Finally, we’ve got a chance to break out those winter sweaters, and there’s always the distant hope that we’ll get a sprinkling of snow. Hopefully we’ll get just enough to remind us how pleasant it is to live in our mild climate. These reasons are part of what makes Marana great right now, but what really makes this town so special around the holidays is the spirit of giving and cheer I see all around us.

Last Saturday, we hosted our annual Holiday Festival and Christmas Tree Lighting, and this year’s event was the biggest yet. More than 5,000 people joined us to deck town hall and celebrate the season. Spreading joy, though, was only part of the objective of this event. We also partnered with the Marana Food Bank to collect donations that help families in need in this community. As a result of this partnership, the Food Bank collected $700 in donations. I’m always proud of the kindness and generosity of Marana’s residents, and this year I was happy to see that tradition continue.

Though the Holiday Festival is behind us, the season is far from over. Northwest Fire, which serves almost all of Marana, is collecting toy donations at all their fire stations from now until Dec. 24. Because of their efforts, Santa will be able to visit even more kids across town.  

Our staff at the town has also embraced the holiday spirit. We have collectively “adopted” six families this year, helping to ensure that all kids get to unwrap a gift. Furthermore, several town departments are not only helping to put presents under the tree, but for two families, are provided the tree itself.

As 2015 draws to a close, it’s also the time to reflect on all we’ve done this year. The new Premium Outlet Mall at Marana Center is providing a new regional amenity that’s attracting visitors from near and far. A new website, www.DiscoverMarana.com, is helping to inform those visitors what else this terrific community has to offer.

A number of citizen-engagement initiatives, including the Citizens Police Academy, Marana Explorers and the Citizens Forum, create two-way communication channels between town staff and residents.

This year has seen us grow in countless exciting directions, and I’m excited to see that progress spread even more.

Next year already has some major projects on the calendar that will make Marana even stronger. The overpass at Ina Road will ease congestion in the long run, making the town a still more appealing location to do business.

The veterans cemetery, to be completed in early 2016, will help us honor those who have served in the military by providing a beautiful and thoughtful final resting place. In November, cyclists in El Tour de Tucson will pedal for 25 miles along the picturesque Santa Cruz River, showcasing all our town has to offer to an audience from across the globe.

We accomplished a tremendous amount in 2015, but clearly we’re not a town that likes to stand still.  

Throughout this month, we at the town of Marana are looking forward to spending time with our loved ones and eating plenty of festive desserts, and we hope you are, too. In January, we’ll hit the ground running (literally, the Egg Nog Jog is scheduled for New Year’s Day — sign up at www.MaranaEvents.com), and we know you expect nothing less. It’s been a good year. Next year will be even better.

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