‘A spec­ta­cle’

Elec­tric Light Pa­rade adds hol­i­day sparkle to area

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOHN VAUGHN BAJO EL SOL ED­I­TOR

The Dorothy Young Memo­rial Elec­tric Light Pa­rade isn’t just go­ing to give off a lot of light Satur­day night. It’s go­ing to leave a lot of light in its wake.

In what may be the big­gest turnout of par­tic­i­pants in the event’s 16-year his­tory, more than 100 en­tries are con­firmed for the pa­rade that will get un­der­way at 6 p.m., trav­el­ing north on 4th Av­enue to down­town Yuma.

Whether they’re floats, cars, march­ing bands, pedes­tri­ans or walk­ing an­i­mals, all the en­tries will be wrapped up in or oth­er­wise dec­o­rated with vivid lights that have made the pa­rade a much-an­tic­i­pated hol­i­day tra­di­tion among Yu­mans.

Named for a late city of Yuma em­ployee who cham­pi­oned it in early days, the pa­rade to­day is or­ga­nized and pre­sented by Visit Yuma. Steven Hen­nig, mar­ket­ing man­ager for the vis­i­tor in­for­ma­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion, says the pub­lic will be able to ap­pre­ci­ate the event on sev­eral dif­fer­ent lev­els.

“One is the spec­ta­cle,” he said. “It’s a large pa­rade with lots and lots of mu­sic and lights. It’s just a great spec­ta­cle.

“The other thing is the sense of com­mu­nity. Peo­ple of all de­mo­graph­ics come out to see the pa­rade. It’s re­ally a great sense of com­mu­nity you feel when you’re there and you par­tic­i­pate in it,” said Hen­nig.

“Sense of com­mu­nity” might just be an un­der­state­ment. Af­ter all, by Visit Yuma’s count, about 40,000 peo­ple gather to see the pa­rade each year.

Given that, Hen­nig sug­gests peo­ple ar­rive early to se­cure pub­lic park­ing and to get a good view­ing spot along the route.

The pa­rade will start at 9th and 4th Av­enue, head­ing north on 4th to 4th Street, where it will turn east, then turn north again on 2nd Av­enue. It will con­tinue north to Giss Park­way, turn­ing onto Main Street, where it will con­clude at the in­ter­sec­tion of 2nd Street.

Bring your own seat, Hen­nig ad­vises. And bring a blan­ket — it could be chilly by the time the pa­rade gets go­ing.

The theme for the pa­rade is “Cel­e­brat­ing Yuma Agri­cul­ture,” so ide­ally a farm­ing mo­tif will be plain to see amid all the color­ful lights strewn over each en­try.

Agri­cul­ture had never been the theme for the pa­rade, said Hen­nig, and it was picked this year “mostly be­cause we re­ally value the con­nec­tion that this com­mu­nity has to the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try that is so im­por­tant to it.”

The en­try judged as best re­flect­ing the theme will re­ceive the Mary Jane Allen Award, which comes with a $300 prize.

It is one of six awards to be handed out to en­tries picked as best in their cat­e­gories by a panel of judges. A $250 award will be given out for the float judged as best in the pa­rade based on the cri­te­ria of orig­i­nal­ity, qual­ity of work­man­ship, ad­her­ence to the farm­ing theme, unique­ness of dec­o­ra­tion and over­all ap­pear­ance.

Awards will also be given out in the amounts of $175 for best ve­hi­cle, $150 for the an­i­mal en­try and $175 for a walk­ing/per­form­ing en­try. March­ing bands that ap­pear in the pa­rade com­pete for a trav­el­ing tro­phy, the Dorothy Young Memo­rial Tro­phy for Best Per­for­mance by a March­ing Band.

Visit Yuma will an­nounce win­ners some­time dur­ing the week af­ter the pa­rade, Hen­nig said.

Pa­rade en­trants are busi­nesses, gov­ern­ment agen­cies, school, non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions and clubs from around the Yuma area. The cre­ativ­ity they use in pre­par­ing floats, ve­hi­cles and other types of en­tries is what keeps the event fresh from year to year, he said.

“En­trants are not go­ing to do the same thing each year. Just see­ing how dif­fer­ent en­trants use the theme and how they de­pict the theme makes the pa­rade unique each year.”

And agri­cul­ture be­ing this year’s theme, it should spark all kinds of creative ideas for Satur­day’s pa­rade, he said. Well over 100 en­tries had been con­firmed for the pa­rade by last week’s cut­off, and Hen­nig be­lieves that’s the largest num­ber in its his­tory.

Spon­sors of Satur­day’s pa­rade are Ari­zona Pub­lic Ser­vice, South­west Gas, Lock­heed Martin, Lib­erty Mo­tor­sports, Westerner Prod­ucts and Yuma In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

As the city of Yuma’s then-Her­itage Fes­ti­vals co­or­di­na­tor, Dorothy Young got the pa­rade started in the 2002, with APS play­ing an in­stru­men­tal role as a ma­jor spon­sor and co-or­ga­nizer in its early suc­cess. When Young passed away in 2010, the event was re­named the Dorothy Young Memo­rial Elec­tric Light Pa­rade.

“She had done a lot of events with Her­itage Fes­ti­vals,” said Hen­nig, “but she al­ways com­mented that the Elec­tric Light Pa­rade was her fa­vorite.”

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF VISIT YUMA

DESTINY CHURCH OF YUMA WON THE CAT­E­GORY OF BEST FLOAT in the 2016 Dorothy Young Memo­rial Elec­tric Light Pa­rade.

COLOR­FUL VE­HI­CLES GET IN LINE IN THE DOROTHY YOUNG Memo­rial Elec­tric Light Pa­rade, which takes place again Satur­day. The Gads­den El­e­men­tary School Dis­trict’s award-win­ning march­ing band (be­low) is again sched­uled to take part in this year’s pa­rade.

FILE PHOTO

A CANDY HOUSE MAKES ITS WAY DOWN THE PA­RADE route in last year’s pa­rade. The pub­lic can al­ways count on see­ing a vivid dis­play at the event (left).

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