Ahwatukee’s community-wide Independence Day celebration vanished after 2016 when the cash-strapped Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce dropped its Red White and Boom event for lack of a moneyed partner.
And while anyone in Ahwatukee who wants to see a mega-fireworks show tomorrow night will have to drive to any number of nearby events, one Fourth of July tradition that still is going strong here is Mountain Park Ranch’s kids parade.
The parade — open only to Mountain Park Ranch HOA members and their families and guests — promises to be as colorful and festive a birthday party as Uncle Sam could want.
Jim Welch, executive director of the Mountain Park Ranch Homeowners Association, said the HOA organizes the event, with the Phoenix Police and Fire departments leading the parade of colorfully dressed children riding decorated bikes and wagons.
Matthew Figueroa of Figueroa DJ Services will spin the music; Slide & Bounce Around, is supplying the inflatable bounce houses, inflatable slides, water slides and other games; and Bad Dog Hotdogs will provide the hotdogs, chips and soda.
Ironically, a key figure in making sure the parade is a festive time for all is Andrew Hayes, who became the Ahwatukee Chamber’s executive director earlier this year.
Hayes “is a huge help with obtaining gift certificates for the kids, handing out prizes and coordinating other activates to help make sure the parade runs smoothly,” Welch said. “MPRHOA Staff and several Pool Monitors also help with these activities, along with serving hot dogs and snow cones and making sure everyone has a great time.”
They and the vendors “make a great team working together for the enjoyment and excitement on this holiday for the MPRHOA members, their families, kids and their guests to enjoy,” Welch added.
The Chamber, for nearly a quarter century, had organized Red White and Boom, which featured a carnival with rides, games and vendors followed by a dazzling fireworks show.
But after its last event at Pecos Park in 2017, the board was forced to pull the plug. It had sought a partner to provide the money for the costly event and found one, but the mystery partner — whose identity has never been revealed — backed out at nearly the last minute.
Compounding the problem was the fact that construction of the South Mountain Freeway had begun and that affected the staging area for the fireworks.
A local promoter had tried to organize a smaller community-wide celebration, but that effort fell apart when he couldn’t get all the necessary city permits in time.
But why bother lamenting what likely will never return.
For those who can’t wait, Fort McDowell Casino will hold a free concert and fireworks tonight, July 3, featuring Eagles tribute band One of These Nights 7:30-9 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9 p.m. 10424 N. Fort McDowell Road, Fountain Hills. Information: fortmcdowelldestination.com
Here are some options open to Ahwatukee residents who want to watch the night light up tomorrow.
One word of warning: virtually every city listed below expects 15,000 to 20,000 people, so plan accordingly.
Phoenix: Steele Indian School Park, 300 East Indian School Road, hosts a party 6-10 p.m. with fireworks slated at 9:30 p.m. The free and non-alcoholic family event has two stages featuring musical acts and entertainers, a variety of vendors offering festival-style food and beverage, arts and crafts, interactive exhibits and a classic car display. Youth activities, rides and inflatables, and a water spray zone will be part of Kids’ World.
Tempe: Gates at the Tempe Beach Park will open at 5 p.m. with a $10 admission. Children 12 and under, or anyone with an active military ID are free. The Big Zephyr will play country music and a blend of old and new rock. Fireworks choreographed to music will be launched from the Mill Avenue Bridge at 9:15 p.m.
Mesa: The Arizona Celebration of Freedom is free and takes place at the Mesa Amphitheatre and Convention Center complex, University Drive and Center Street, from 6 to 10 p.m. Fireworks are slated at 9:30 p.m.
Chandler: The city’s Fireworks Spectacular runs 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Road. Admission is free but parking is $5.
Gilbert: Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and lawn games to the free event, which features food trucks and fireworks. Glass containers, alcohol, smoking and outside fireworks are not permitted at the main venue or viewing sites. Gates open at 6 p.m. with fireworks show scheduled for 8:30 p.m. at Higley High School, 4068 E. Pecos Road.
Phoenix Zoo: 4th of Zooly includes a summer BBQ catered by Andrew’s Catering at the Lakeside lawn. Attendees will also have free access to Endangered Species Carousel rides and access to Stingray Bay, animal guest appearances and a live DJ. The evening ends with a viewing of the nearby Tempe Town Lake fireworks show. The event, which starts at 7 p.m., costs $45 for adults, $35 for children 3-12, free for children under 12.