Parade of Lights a huge hit at Christmas Festival

By Curtis Riggs | December 17, 2008

Crowd of 5,000 attends
CAREFREE – Easy Street and the rest of downtown were aglow with Christmas lights on Friday as an estimated crowd of 5,000 attended the Parade of Lights in the inaugural Carefree Christmas Festival.

Parade lovers of all ages and throngs of children watched 47 floats and other parade entries, covered in Christmas lights, while waiting for a glimpse of Santa and to see snow flying in the Town Center Amphitheater courtesy of a couple of Disney snow machines.

“It was amazing,” festival committee co-chairperson Jo Gemmill said about how the parade and the opening of the festival came off. “It exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

Mayor Wayne Fulcher called the crowd at the festival parade “impressive” and commented downtown Carefree accommodated the large crowd well.

“It was just wonderful to see the expressions on the children’s faces while riding in the parade,” he said.

Sue Bickerdyke Interiors’ float, which was converted into a model for a home interior, won first place for Best Lights.

parade floatThe Santa Claus is Coming to Town float, a collaboration among Bertram Graphics, Let There Be Light and Palomino Jewelers, took the prize for Most Original entry. The float featured a Santa’s head completed with a working mouth and tongue.

Alice Kunka and the Carefree/Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce won the prize for the Most Fun float for their Christmas-light covered float with a country band playing on it.

“The quality of the floats was exceptional,” Fulcher said.

Downtown Carefree had a real old-time Christmas feel beginning on Friday. Carolers dressed in period costumes were strolling through downtown and Rural Metro firefighters sponsored an old-fashioned marshmallow roast.

It was difficult getting through the crowds in the amphitheater because of all the children waiting to see Santa.

Over $3,200 was raised for local non-profit organizations at the Festival of Trees celebration, which included 27 decorated Christmas trees sold to benefit the charities.
Fulcher said downtown merchants were pleased with the crowd the festival and parade generated and that business was good throughout downtown.

“I just hope the visitors return to Carefree because of what they saw,” he said.

Photo: The Santa Claus is Coming to Town float, designed by Carefree Studios’ Bertram Signs and Graphics, won the Most Original prize in last Friday’s Parade of Lights. The parade, which attracted an estimated crowd of 5,000 people, kicked off the three-day Carefree Christmas Festival.
Photo by Curtis Riggs