On Thursday night committee members in charge of organizing the Festival of Lights had a meeting to discuss a variety of formalities needed to be completed before the Festival of Lights holiday celebration kicks off the weekend after Thanksgiving.

The Festival of Lights committee has been organizing the event for more than 18 years, where they have fun-filled entertainment for the community of Ahwatukee at Desert Foothills Park.

The park is filled with inflatable and carnival-like rides for the kids, some street fair-type shops along the outside street of the park, stages for different performances, and a beer garden where adults can enjoy alcoholic beverages.

Some litigations brought up during Thursday night’s meeting was updating members on what will be getting organized before August, such as getting the generators for the lighting of Chandler Boulevard, contacting companies for sponsorships, and getting the word out to individuals in the community who are willing to help organize the event.


Committee involvement

One growing concern raised during the meeting is the lack of volunteer turn out to help organize the Festival of Lights, which takes four months of advance planning to get completed.

As of right now there are eight to 10 core members who plan meetings twice a month in order to get all the litigation done before the day of the event, which is Nov. 30.

President of the Festival of Lights Committee, David Smolinski, said to put the event on they need at least 30 to 35 core members to plan all the logistics, and on the day of the event they end up with about 200 volunteers.

“We are pre-planning at the moment, so within a month or so we’re probably going to need most of our volunteers who are going to help us,” Smolinski said. “If we can get 30 people that can help us out we can divide it up, and it’s a lot less work for everybody.”

Smolinski said they are unsure on why there’s such a small turnout for volunteers for the Festival of Lights because they try getting the word out through their websites and contacting previous volunteers.

Community members interested in becoming volunteers for the Festival of Lights can visit www.folaz.org to fill out a quick questionnaire.

Volunteers are given a variety of committees to get involved with ranging from communications, restaurant and beer garden sponsorships, and entertainment.

A raising concern that was brought up during the meeting was the high volume of people who attended the beer garden last year.

The committee decided on getting more volunteers to work the beer garden to keep the lines down and their attendees pleased.

Other than getting the word out for volunteers to get involved with the event, committee members are looking into getting sponsors they’ve had in the past. 

Acting secretary for the Festival of Lights committee, Susan Anderton, said the committee works through a data base that has the contact information of all sponsors who have participated in past years. 

“We contact them by either email or letter, and then we follow up by personal visits,” Anderton said. “We always try to go back to people who have helped us last year, and go to people who are new to the neighborhood that have opened up businesses.”

The next meeting will be at 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 22.

For information on where the meeting will be, or on becoming a volunteer, contact committee member Judy Lewisohn at (602) 692-3683. 

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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