He won’t tell you his actual age, but longtime Ahwatukee Foothills resident and “parade boss” Mike Schmitt is happy to announce he has held the prestigious title for 20 years.
Schmitt has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills with his wife, Bonnie, since 1979 and there has been less than a handful of years he hasn’t done something for the Ahwatukee Easter Parade, which is coming up Saturday, April 7. In all, he has worked on the parade in one form or another for 30 years.
But Schmitt says, even after all those years, it doesn’t get boring.
“There is renewed excitement every year because you are starting from scratch,” he explained. “There is the challenge of getting as many entries as you can and then, on parade day, there’s confusion and a little bit of chaos, which adds to the fun of it.”
Schmitt, as parade boss, with the help of his wife, is responsible for making sure the 75 participants in this year’s, the 36th annual, line up are in their appropriate spots and start walking at the correct times. He said on Saturday, he’s “the only one with a clipboard.”
The Ahwatukee Easter Parade is being put on by Kiwanis Ahwatukee, the way it has been for the past 12 years. Also on Saturday is the Spring Fling. The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. and will start at the 48th Street and Warner Road intersection. The Spring Fling immediately follows at Ahwatukee Park, 4700 E. Warner Road.
Before Kiwanis took over the Easter Parade, it was put on by the Ahwatukee Jaycees, a club that ultimately folded in 1996. There were four years in between the Jaycees and Kiwanis, which left the brunt of the work to Schmitt and his wife.
“On these years, I get about 100 hours of work, but during that time it was a lot more,” Schmitt said. “I kept it alive when the club went away and as soon as Kiwanis took over, it was a big relief on my part. Everybody works hard and that’s what you need to get it done.”
In addition to local politicians, there will be about 200 high school students, businesses and more marching in what has become a staple event in the Ahwatukee Foothills community.
And you can bet that Schmitt will be there, clipboard in hand, watching the action unfold.
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