Festival of Lights kickoff party

The 18th Annual Festival of Lights Kick-Off Party is one the public will not want to miss this Saturday, according to organizers.

This year the event will have an expanded Santa’s Village with face painting, more than 100 vendors in the marketplace, and a carnival and game area open until 7 p.m.

The Nov. 30 event begins at 11 a.m. at Desert Foothills Park at Chandler Boulevard and Desert Foothills Parkway. Guests can park for free at Kyrene Altadeña Middle School, 14620 S. Desert Foothills Parkway, and the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA, 1030 E. Liberty Lane. Shuttles will take people closer to the party. Parking lots will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Beer Garden will be open for adults at 11 a.m.

“We’ve shifted the beer garden around and the stage around so you can be in the beer garden with your beverage of choice and still enjoy the entertainment,” said Susan Anderton, volunteer with the Festival of Lights.

Entertainment will begin at 11 a.m. and go until 7 p.m. The schedule of entertainment includes local choirs, Ahwatukee Music Makers, and several local bands.

The four-on-four Smash Volleyball tournament will be returning this year from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teams can sign up at www.folaz.org.

As usual the Harley Parade will ride down Chandler Boulevard from Foothills Baptist Church and arrive at the park at 6 p.m., igniting the lights as they go.

The Marketplace Street Fair has sold out with more than 100 vendors planning on attending. Vendors will have everything from boutique items, crafts, pet sitting, and more. At the FUNnecting booth, the business has collected donations from several businesses around town that will be raffled off.

Restaurant row is also full of several choices for guests at the party. Perfect Pair Bistro, Florencia Pizza Bistro, The Original Hoagie Shop, Caffe Boa, Gigi’s Cupcakes, Macayos, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Picnic Specialties, Safeway, Tukee’s Sports Grille, Yoasis Frozen Yogurt, Von Hanson’s, Water and Ice, Jamba Juice and Kettle Pop Productions will all be on hand.

Games and rides will be open longer this year, until 7 p.m. An all-day wrist band can be purchased for $20 or individual tickets are available for 50 cents each.

“It’s for all ages from the little ones all the way up,” Anderton said.

The carnival will include bounce houses and other inflatables. The most popular rides, ice skating and hamster balls, will also be returning this year.

Admission to the event is free. More information, a complete entertainment schedule, and a map for parking can all be found at www.folaz.org.

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

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