Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it’s time to usher in the holiday season.
Tempe’s Fantasy of Lights parade is among the earliest East Valley celebrations to help you make the transition from turkey and dressing to tinsel and candy canes.
Floats, bands, equestrian groups and marching teams will proceed south on Mill Avenue from Third to Seventh streets on Saturday, then turn west on Seventh Street.
At the Centerpoint Plaza (on Seventh), spectators will see the lighting of Tempe’s 50-foot holiday tree, and Santa will visit with youngsters in the lobby of MADCAP Theaters. You can snap your own photo of the kids with St. Nick, or have a photo taken for you. You’ll be able to download the image, for free, from Flickr.
“It’s a great family, free event. Nothing costs anything at this event; it’s our gift to the community,” says Nancy Hormann, director of Downtown Tempe Community, Inc., the group that organizes the festivities.
Hormann recommends traveling via Ash or Fourth streets for easiest access to parking garages and lots. She says free parking will be available at the City Hall parking garage at Fifth Street and Forest Avenue, and at the parking lot at Fifth Street and Farmer Avenue. Most other parking in the area runs $5.
About 70,000 spectators turned out for last year’s parade.
The event is prelude to Dec. 10’s Tempe Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade. That’s when festively lighted boats float on Tempe Town Lake. Santa will visit with children beginning at 6 p.m. at Tempe Beach Park, and a fireworks show will close the event.
DETAILS >> 6 p.m. Saturday. Along Mill Avenue, from Third to Seventh streets, and at the Centerpoint Plaza on Seventh Street, in downtown Tempe. Free. (480) 355-6060 or www.millavenue.com/events/fantasyoflights.