Just last year the popular Festival of Lights Holiday Hayrides and Luminary Hike was in jeopardy, but thanks to Ahwatukee Foothills’ TLC Pediatrics, the event will go on this year and for years to come.
Doctors at the practice, located at 16611 S. 40th St., have made a commitment to sponsor the event this year and next at $2,000 each year, said Festival of Lights administrative director Dixie Prosser.
“We thought 2008 was to be our last year,” Prosser explained. “It’s always been a break-even event and we were informed that we would have to use police for traffic detail at our expense. We couldn’t justify that so we announced it would be the last year in 2008 and TLC Pediatrics came forward.”
According to Dr. Diane Matsumoto, founding partner and president of TLC Pediatrics, it was a perfect investment for her practice.
“Our practice is in Ahwatukee, I live in Ahwatukee and our patient-base is here, and we felt strongly that the hayride should continue for the kids and the community,” Matsumoto said. “This was our chance to give back.”
This Saturday, Dec. 12, will be the first night for the 12th annual event that takes residents on horse-drawn hayrides and drops them off for a luminary hike through the Foothills, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.. It will continue the following Saturday, Dec. 19, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Boy Scout Troop 14 will set up hundreds of luminaries along the Telegraph Pass hiking trail for everyone’s enjoyment.
“It’s a fun and inexpensive way for the whole family to spend an evening together and forget about the chaos of the holidays,” Prosser said. “While these hayrides don’t go down Chandler Boulevard through our Mile of a Million Lights Display, the residents along the hayride route have, for many years, worked together to line their back fences with lights. In fact, when we switched to LED lights, FOL donated many of our old lights and extension cords to those homeowners so they could continue to ‘Deck the Walls,’ as we say.”
While it’s still a “break-even” event and FOL does not raise any funds for the festivities, Prosser said it’s something the community has come to expect this time of year.
“We will probably continue to sponsor it as long as people in the community enjoy it,” Matsumoto said. “We have no plans to stop sponsoring (beyond next year).”
Tickets are $5 per person, ages 3 and under ride free on an adult’s lap, and can be purchased at the three Ahwatukee Foothills Safeway stores, ACE Hardware on Desert Foothills Parkway, or online at www.folaz.org. Tickets will be available at the door as space permits and the hayrides depart from and return to Kyrene Altadeña Middle School, located at 14620 S. Desert Foothills Parkway.
For more information, visit www.folaz.org.