Ahwatukee Foothills’ biggest celebration of the year starts this weekend as the 14th annual Festival of Lights holiday kick-off party brings the community together tomorrow, Nov. 28, in Desert Foothills Park.

The one-day event will play host to more than 15,000 guests eager to participate in the festivities from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Festival of Lights administrative director Dixie Prosser said.

“We estimate about 15,000 usually attend,” she added. “It is a free event and we have all-day entertainment; families are looking to take their kids out to have fun at an affordable price.”

Prosser has been a part of the Festival of Lights Committee for four years and said she thinks this holiday celebration will be a great one.

“The light display is a main attraction among residents with more than one million white bulbs shining bright for the crowd to enjoy,” Prosser said. “People are really into their Christmas lights here in the Valley. I think it’s because the weather is so good, that you can actually put lights on your house and they’ll stay up and on through the season without being affected by the elements that the rest of the country endures.”

A carnival area for children will be open almost all day on Saturday with about 40 different rides, inflatables and game booths, Prosser said. Parents can purchase wristbands for $25 the day of the event.

Adult attractions will include a beer garden with TVs playing the big “Dual in the Desert” Arizona State vs. University of Arizona football game, craft vendors and a restaurant row open to guests throughout the day.

The Marketplace Street Fair will feature nearly 100 vendors and will include a holiday boutique benefiting the Festival of Lights’ charity partners, the Ahwatukee Kiwanis Chapter (www.kiwanisahwatukee.org) and Y-OPAS (Outreach Programs for Ahwatukee Seniors).

“They will be selling donated wreaths and other holiday décor and accessories with all proceeds going to the charities,” Prosser said. Donations are being accepted at the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA.

One of the main attractions tomorrow will begin at 5:15 p.m. with Radio Disney’s “Next Big Thing” winners and local act Jonnie and Brookie Allen (www.jonnieandbrookie.com) performing on the main stage.

The traditional lighted Harley-Davidson Parade will descend upon the park at approximately 6 p.m. with more than 100 riders escorting Santa and Mrs. Claus to declare the holiday season open.

Admission to the festival is free, and free shuttles will be available from Altadeña Middle School, 14620 S. Desert Foothills Parkway, and the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA, 1030 E. Liberty Lane. A shuttle map is available at www.FOLAZ.org.

“The Festival of Lights is not only a wonderful community event, but it also gives residents the opportunity to shop locally; that boosts the Ahwatukee economy,” said Terri Kimble, president and CEO of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce,.

For complete details, visit www.FOLAZ.org or call (480) 270-4365.

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