For many, the Festival of Lights is a kickoff to the holiday season but this year the planners of the event want everyone to share what the Festival of Lights means to them.

“It really is something all of Ahwatukee owns,” said Melanie Beauchamp of Beauchamp Law Offices. Beauchamp Law Offices has sponsored the event for years, but this is Beauchamp’s first year on the committee.

“I thought, I wonder through the years what this has meant to families,” she said. “I wonder if it’s a tradition to families. Is it something they plan into their lives? Something their kids go to every year? I thought how can we get people to talk to us about it and share their experiences with the festival?”

Beauchamp and the committee came up with the idea for a photo contest.

“Maybe they have a photo of their baby’s first Festival of Lights and now their baby is older and maybe volunteering at the Festival of Lights,” Beauchamp said. “We just thought it would be cool to get people to send their memories in and share them. And contests are always just kind of fun.”

The photos, which can be submitted online at folaz.com, won’t be judged on their quality. Instead, the committee will judge the photos on what best illustrates what the Festival of Lights means to them and the emotion the photo evokes. The winner will receive four free tickets to the kick-off party on Nov. 24.

“They’re very casual criteria but we want this to be a casual contest,” Beauchamp said. “We don’t want it to be political or overly stressful. We just want it to be about what the Festival of Lights represents to your family and how it makes people feel.”

The contest has already begun and will go until Nov. 10. Beauchamp said there are plans to create a slideshow of all the photos online so everyone can see them.

For Beauchamp, the Festival of Lights is a symbol of what a close-knit community Ahwatukee Foothills is.

“Really, it signifies the kickoff to the whole holiday season,” she said. “It means that I’m still part of this Ahwatukee community. Ahwatukee is like our own little Mayberry. That’s what the Festival of Lights signifies to me. We’re really fortunate to be part of this little Mayberry. We have an amazing opportunity to go and enjoy everything from a beer garden to the events they have for the kids.

“The contest is all about fun. I hate to use the word contest because it makes it sound like bitter competitiveness, but it’s not. It’s all about sharing your memories with the rest of Ahwatukee so everyone can look at it and say, ‘I never thought of the Festival of Lights that way.’”

For more information and to enter the contest, visit folaz.com.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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