Festival of Lights Chair Janyce Hazlett says the committee needs new members to contribute new ideas and hopes people will attend next Tuesday's meeting.
Special to AFN

The Christmas lights along Chandler Boulevard have been packed away, but plans are already in the making for one of the two big fundraising events that will help bring them back this November.

And the Festival of the Lights Committee is looking for new blood to help make it all happen.

Committee Chair Janyce Hazlett said that with the annual Wine and Beer Tasting Festival at Rawhide Western Town tentatively scheduled for April 14, she and other panel members are looking for new volunteers to not only plan what some call “Ahwatukee’s funnest night out,” but to help make plans for the post-Thanksgiving Festival of Lights Kick-Off Party as well.

“The Festival of Lights has concluded a successful and bright 22nd year and looks forward to many exciting changes for 2018,” Hazlett said. “We welcome a new group of volunteers to join our veterans and bring innovative ideas to make our annual events even better.”

She said some committee members were children when the group first formed in 1996 and “have wonderful memories of the fundraiser events.”

An organizational meeting is scheduled at 6:30 next Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Desert Foothills United Methodist Church, 2156 E. Liberty Lane, Ahwatukee.

The committee also is seeking grant requests from nonprofit organizations, not necessarily located in Ahwatukee, to be recipients of some of its fundraising proceeds this year.

The committee raised enough money last year to award three organizations grants.

Partner charities selected by the committee for 2017 were the Ahwatukee YMCA Outreach Program for Ahwatukee Seniors, the Starbright Foundation and the Ahwatukee Kiwanis Club. Y OPAS and the Starbright Foundation each received $3,000 whole the Kiwanis Club got $2,000.

The size of the awards is based on the amount of support the committee gets from the group for its fundraisers, Hazlett said.

Applications, which are due by Feb. 28, can be found at FOLAZ.org. Final selections will be made March 23, Hazlett said.

Hazlett said new volunteers are needed because they help stimulate creative approaches to the committee’s events.

“We always strive to make interesting and fun changes and welcome anyone who would like to lend their ideas for consideration,” she said, adding that the general meeting next Tuesday “is very fun and exciting.”

The beer-wine party, which was moved three years ago to Rawhide from the Foothills Country Club, provides attendees with a selection of more than 50 varieties of wines and beers, food samples from a dozen or more area restaurants and live music.

The event’s silent auction is well-known for the quality of their items including jewelry and trips, and for the quantity. Traditionally, over 100 items are up for bid.

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