Lighten up the holidays


By Miranda Scott

Turn on the holiday spirit students; the Holiday Lights Parade is coming up! Sponsored by Vora Financial and coordinated by Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, the parade will be held on Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. in the downtown area. It will start at the cross-section of Elm Avenue and Beaver Street, continuing on to Aspen Avenue and San Francisco Street and end back on Elm Avenue. There is sure to be excitement as the floats go past with hundreds of twinkling lights draping and decorating them.

People in search of holiday fun for the family should look no further. The lights parade is an event designed to  suit everyone’s taste. Kids can enjoy the bright lights and fun floats and parents can appreciate the artistry involved.

Matt Beaty, the marketing and sales executive for the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, says, “We encourage parents to bring the kids and to make sure everyone is dressed appropriately for the weather. A thermos of hot cocoa and glow sticks or other fun holiday attire is encouraged.”

As most Flagstaff winters are, the night of the parade is likely to be chilly, so visitors would not be remiss to bring a few sweaters, gloves and maybe a warm hand to hold during the festivities. A visit from one very special holiday hero is expected as well.

“We also expect Santa to take time out of his very busy schedule to join us as the final entry in the parade,” Beaty says.

Students who might be less interested in the family side of the event can use the time shop downtown. According to Beaty, the purpose of the parade is also to promote local businesses in Flagstaff. Enjoying the winter cheer while picking up a few things from a favorite shop is a great way to be a part of the community.

The show is expected to run about 90 minutes — perfect for some fun before finals week. There are about 60 entries in total, ranging from marching bands to local law enforcement. Each float has been carefully crafted as participants spent endless amounts of hours working on them.

The competition is going to be heated, as nothing makes a winter night better than some good old-fashioned competitive spirit. Returning winners, Michael McLaughlin Orthodontics, have a few ideas up their sleeves for this year’s float.

“All the lights on the float are going to blink in time with the music,” Dr. McLaughlin says. “It’s going to be really fun.”

Because they have been in the parade for many years, their preparation time has gone significantly down. McLaughlin says it used to take them at least a month to create a float, but now they can create the “wow factor” in only a few weeks.

There has been a great deal of preparation and planning going into the parade. Eric Prochnow, the head coordinator for the parade, says, “It takes about 10 to 12 weeks to plan the lights parade. It involves obtaining permits, sponsors, parade participants and all the necessary accommodations for a parade.”

However, Prochnow says that this is a labor of love.

“I couldn’t be more excited to see the outcome. I have been putting in so much hard work for this parade that it will be great to see the fruits of my labor come together to make such a spectacular community event,” Prochnow says. “I’m mostly excited to see Flagstaff come together as a community to celebrate the holiday season.”

The extensive amount of time spent organizing the parade should make it run as smoothly as possible. However, one obstacle that often comes up is snow.

“The weather can be our biggest obstacle or our best ally during the beginning of December,” Beaty says. “We never know until the evening of the parade.”

Whatever the weather brings, the Holiday Lights Parade is sure to be a fun event to go to with family and friends. Remember to bring a warm knit cap, some hot chocolate and  holiday cheer to enjoy the many twinkling lights of the floats.


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December 2012
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