Light parade slated for Saturday; Central Avenue receives holiday adornment

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Phoenix Community Alliance decorated along Central Avenue for the holidays. The Arizona Public Service Electric Light Parade will make its way down Central Avenue on Dec. 1. (Amelia Goe/DD)

The Arizona Public Service Electric Light Parade will make its way down Central Avenue on Saturday for its 26th year lighting up the streets of Phoenix.

The light parade, put on by the city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, will start at 7 p.m. on Central and Montebello avenues, said David Urbinato, the city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation public information officer.

The parade will feature a mix of custom built floats, decorated vehicles, baton twirlers, miniature horses, marching bands and more. In keeping with the parade’s electric light theme, Urbinato said that everyone and everything in the parade must be lit.

The cars, the horses, and everything else have to glow with lights, he said.

“It’s fantastic to have the parade here in Phoenix,” said Samantha Jackson, community services director of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. “It brings people into our district and if the parade stopped running, it would surely be missed.”

Before the parade, there will be a judging ceremony in the parking lot of the North Phoenix Baptist Church, located near Central and Montebello avenues, Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. There will also be Santa’s Village for children to meet Santa Claus and partake in crafts.

People can attend both the parade and the judging ceremony, but the Friday judging gives people an opportunity to see the lights and floats without the large crowds, Urbinato said.

“People will get the chance to wander through the different floats that they will see on the actual parade,” he said.

Attendees should come to the parade early if they plan on getting a front seat spot. Viewing areas and parking will be first-come-first-served, Urbinato said.

“We have had people come and camp out as early as noon to see the parade,” he said.

The parade is not the only thing with a tradition of lighting up Central Avenue during the holiday season.

The Phoenix Community Alliance, a nonprofit community development organization, organized decorations along Central in the past. However, due to funding and coordination issues the Alliance had to stop their annual decorating. This year, the decorations are back.

Jo Marie McDonald, the vice president of Phoenix Community Alliance said the organization made big changes this year in order to put up 220 decorations from Baseline to Camelback roads.

In the past, decorations were funded by community organizations and businesses and then stored and installed by the city of Phoenix, McDonald said. This year, the decorations are still funded by donations made from the Phoenix community; however, the Alliance is leasing the decorations from Christmas Light Decorators, Arizona’s largest Christmas decorating company, McDonald said.

The drive behind getting decorations back into the community stemmed from a committee meeting with organizations including Valley Metro, Roosevelt Row Community Development Corp. and the Midtown Museum District of Phoenix, McDonald said.

“All these groups decided they wanted the decorations to come back, so we reached out to the community and we now have donations from over 100 different groups, businesses and individuals,” McDonald said.

Hans Hughes, a Downtown Phoenix Ambassador, said that the decorations give Phoenix more of a traditional holiday appearance.

“The decorations provide a good holiday experience, bringing the metaphorical white Christmas feel to a 70 degree city,” Hughes said.

Contact the reporter at angoe@asu.edu