Parade of Lights To Brighten Armory Park December 20th

December 15, 2014

Time lapse of the 501st Legion's entry in the 2013  Downtown Parade of LIghts.

Time lapse of the 501st Legion’s entry in the 2013 Downtown Parade of LIghts.

by Brad Poole

If you’ve never seen an antique fire truck wrapped in Christmas lights from front to back, you’re missing out. It’s a sight to see, and you can see it in Tucson’s annual Downtown Parade of Lights and Festival on Dec. 20th.

This year, the parade marks its 20th anniversary, and the annual glowing gathering has come a long way, said Brandi Haga-Blackman, Operations and Events Manager for the non-profit that organizes the parade, the Downtown Tucson Partnership.

“It started with about five entries, and the procession just went around the library. They just kept going around, because it was so small,” Haga-Blackman said.

The concept is simple. Just deck your floats, vehicles or selves in lights, and BAM! You’re in a parade.

Last year more than 700 people walked, marched or rolled along the route, but organizers expect over 1,700 people this year.

Over 1,700 participants are expected to participate in the 20th Annual Downtown Parade of Lights.

Over 1,700 participants are expected to participate in the 20th Annual Downtown Parade of Lights.

The scores of entries include the Old Pueblo Vintage Fire Brigade, which is the Cactus Chapter of the S.P.A.A.M.F.A.A., otherwise known as the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America.

Tucson Parks & Recreation KIDCO has an entry, as do Valley of the Moon and Southwest Truck Driver Training, a group that will presumably bring a decorated semi. There are even private families entered.

“As long as you have lights, you can pretty much do anything,” Haga-Blackman said.

Starting at 4 p.m., you can enjoy dinner and a cup of hot chocolate at Armory Park, where the Partnership will host a gathering of craft vendors, carnival games, music and food.

Wendy’s and Kettle Korn will be at the festival, as will Wicked Burgers and the Lao Student Club. Yum. At 6 p.m., Mayor Jonathan Rothschild will light the city Christmas tree.

Although the parade is mostly fun and games, it is a competition. Prizes will be awarded for best historical or cultural theme, best musical group (marching band, anyone?) and of course, best use of lights.

More than 65 entries will participate in the 2014 parade.

More than 65 entries will participate in the 2014 parade.

Judges will announce the awards right after the parade, and results will be posted on the Downtown Tucson website and Facebook page.

The 2014 Downtown Parade of Lights is presented by Carondelet St. Mary’s. Sponsors who make Parade of Lights possible include My 92.9, 93.7 KRQ, Mister Car Wash, KXCI, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson News Now, Tierra Antigua Downtown, and Wendy’s .

The Downtown Parade of Lights and festival is Dec. 20. The festival begins at 4 p.m., and the parade starts at 6:30.

Volunteers are needed to help stage entries, manage the thousands of people expected to attend and generally make it all happen. No special skills needed – just bring a dose of holiday spirit and a smile.

If you want to help, contact Brandi Haga-Blackman at For more information, a map of the route, and pictures of past Parade of Lights entries, click here.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone