2017 Spirit of Carefree Award Recipient, Ron Bacher

Known throughout the Desert Foothills area as “Carefree Santa”, Ron Bacher was chosen as the 2017 recipient of the Spirit of Carefree Award, underwritten by Sanderson Lincoln. This annual distinction honors Carefree residents who demonstrate above-and-beyond dedication to the community and its residents. The award was presented during the Town’s Community Block Party event on Saturday, April 6, 2019 and accepted by Mr. Bacher’s widow, Annette Bacher.

Ron Bacher relocated to Phoenix from his native Chicago in 1972, and was an accomplished jewelry artist and woodworker. He was perhaps best known throughout the area for his distinctive long, white beard, and each Christmas season he became Santa Claus for the Town’s annual holiday celebrations. His woodworking artistry can still be viewed in the Carefree Desert Gardens, as he was the creator of the post for the Little Free Library located on the west side of the gardens. Mr. Bacher passed away suddenly of a heart attack on March 26, 2018.

The Spirit of Carefree Award, established in 2013, is presented on an annual basis in recognition of those individuals that demonstrate dedication and service to the Foothills community, and Carefree in particular. Previous recipients include former Town councilman Arthur Gimson, former Carefree Mayor David Schwan, and local business owners Harry Vardakis and Steve Woods.


2017 – Ron Bacher
2016 – Steve Woods
2015 – Harry Vardakis
2014 – David Schwan
2013 – Arthur Gimson

2017 Spirit of Carefree award, Ron Bacher

Above L–R: Mayor Les Peterson, Annette Bacher and Vice-Mayor John Crane.

Below: Ron Bacher as "Carefree Santa"

Spirit of Carefree - Ron Bacher as Santa


The Spirit of Carefree award is a dichroic glass sculpture handcrafted by local Carefree glass artisan Peggy Pettigrew Stewart, owner of Desert Glasshopper Studios. She is internationally known for her intricate blending of light and prismatic color in her glass art, and many of her award-winning pieces have been featured in museums, exhibitions and galleries worldwide.

Harry Vardakis with Spirit Award
L–R: Award creator and glass artisan, Peggy Pettigrew Stewart; 2015 award recipient Harry Vardakis; Mayor Les Peterson.
L–R: Mayor Les Peterson presents the 2016 award to Steve Woods, Owner of Tech4Life in Carefree.