Celebrate the Season
by Robert “Bob” Jackson, Mayor, Casa Grande
The holiday season is here. For me one of the best ways to get in the spirit is the Electric Light Parade. I am one of the few people that have been involved in the event since the start. I remember the first one 21 years ago. We only had about ten entries; the route was essentially from what is now the Library thru the downtown area. It lasted about twenty minutes and while we didn’t count the crowd then we probably had less than five hundred people viewing the parade.
Over the years the route has changed multiple times and the current one starts on Florence Blvd near Lowe’s and ends downtown at Florence Street and 2nd. We currently average between 75 and 100 entries and a crowd estimated to be over 50,000 watching. The quality of the floats always impresses me.
My job since the first year has been to work in the staging area helping to line up the entries and then travel to the end of the route to make sure everybody turns onto 2nd Street and completes the parade safely. It gives me a unique perspective on the event because I get to see the floats being set up in the staging area, see the size of the crowd and then watch the parade at the end.
In the 20 years of doing the parade we have really only had bad weather a couple of times but the parade goes on no matter what the weather looks like. The energy of the people who have created the floats and organized their groups to participate is always friendly and they all love each other’s floats. I think that most of the entries could care less about the awards but look forward to sharing the holiday spirit with their friends, family and the community.
The parade is always the first Saturday in December and starts about six. Depending on where you are on the route has some bearing on how long it takes but the last entry generally leaves the start about an hour after the first one and it takes about an hour to traverse the route. It is a great community event that is free. Come out and enjoy this signature community event and get into the Holiday spirit.
While we have a number of events in December and January I always look forward to the Downtown Street Fair in mid January. This is another community event that started small and has steadily grown to become one of the premier events in Pinal County. In addition to arts and crafts booths there is an abundance of good food and one of the best car shows in the area. The event generally takes place over the Martin Luther King weekend and is a must see for all our residents and winter visitors.
I have lived in all size cities across the west and have always felt that Casa Grande is a growing community that has managed to retain its small town feel with many of the family oriented community events we hold throughout the year.
There are a number of resources you can use to keep up to date with the events going on in town including this magazine. Other resources include the Chamber website www.casagrandechamber.org and the City’s website, www.casagrandeaz.gov. Check out these websites regularly to keep up to date with our community events.
In closing I hope you and your family have happy and healthy holiday season, see you at the Electric Light Parade, number 21 for me.