Longer light parade moves to Saturday, salutes centennial

Posted on by az100
December 06, 2011 3:36 PM

Yuma’s electric light parade is always a high-voltage holiday event.

“Yuma … One Hundred Years in the Making” is the theme of Saturday’s Dorothy Young Memorial Centennial Electric Light Parade, which has been sanctioned by the Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation as one of the official centennial events taking place around the state. And for purposes of the upcoming celebration of statehood, the parade has added “Centennial” to its name.

This year’s route has been expanded, which organizers say will provide more viewing spots along its route.

But that is not the only change to the parade, which is presented by Arizona Public Service and the Yuma Visitors Bureau. In past years, it was on a Friday night, but this year it’s being held on Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m.

“With all the logistics of getting nearly 100 units organized, we were just growing too big for Friday night,” said YVB’s parade organizer Teri Ingram. “Moving over to Saturday evening not only makes staging a little easier for participants and the police department, it should also be more convenient for families, so they’re not rushing to get here from school or work.”

Now in its ninth year, the parade will form on 3rd Avenue between 8th and 10th streets, proceed north on 3rd to Orange, turn into the parking lot in front of City Hall, cross through it and out onto Madison, around one side of the roundabout at Giss Parkway, then east on Giss Parkway to Main Street. The parade will continue north on Main Street to 2nd Street and disband in the parking lot behind Lutes Casino.

“By making just a little jog in the route, it brings the parade down the 300 block of Main Street and also opens up more parking to the public,” Ingram said, explaining that people now will be able to access downtown parking lots on both sides of Main Street either from the north (via 1st Street) or the east (via Gila Street).

“There’s really no bad place to watch the parade. And the turn through the lots south of City Hall may just become a new favorite spot for a lot of people.”

Among the 80 to 100 expected entries this year are school bands, cars and floats of all types and pedestrians, of both the two- and four-legged variety, all decked out in Christmas lights and holiday cheer.

Ann Walker Ann Walker, YVB public relations specialist, said the Kofa High School and Gadsden bands have marched in it every year. Johnny Cloud of the Cloud Museum has had a car in every parade as well.

Walker said the parade gets bigger and better each year, and unlike other area parades, the Electric Light Parade is open to anyone who would like to participate. They do, however, need to follow the parade theme to be eligible for grand prize recognition.

“You can throw some Christmas lights on your dog or your family car and join in,” Ingram laughed. “The variety is one of the things that makes the parade unique.”

“You don’t have to be an officially recognized group, it’s open to everyone,” added Walker. “It would be nice if they were illuminated, but they don’t have to be.”

Although the deadline to enter the parade has passed, Walker said the Visitors Bureau typically welcomes participants even in the last week.

Anyone who still wants to take part in the parade can fill out an application online on YVB’s website at www.visityuma.com/vendors_participate.html or at its office at 202 S. 1st Ave., Suite 202; or contact Ingram at 376-0100 or teri@visityuma.com for more information.

The last entry in this year’s parade will, as always, be Santa Claus, who will meet children, hear their Christmas wishes and hand out Christmas ornaments as part of a post-parade party. The Yuma High School Marching Band will also be performing for the public on an outdoor stage near the Yuma Art Center on Main Street.

The parade honors the late Dorothy Young, the “Lite Lady,” one-time coordinator of public events in downtown Yuma, for creating and pulling off the parade in years past.

Walker added that at least some of Young’s relatives are expected to attend this year parade and will probably be riding on one of its final floats.

James Gilbert can be reached at jgilbert@yumasun.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.

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