Festival of Lights Kick-Off Party

Check out the thermometer or step outside. The mercury is inching upward and before you know it, we’ll be broiling for a few months.

And as that mercury rises, The Season in Ahwatukee is fading more quickly than an ice cube in July.

It’s been a great one so far, with the Bags and Wags Fest, the Chili Cook-off, the Ahwatukee Dog Show, the Easter Parade – just to name a few in recent weeks.

I count The Season in Ahwatukee roughly from the day after Thanksgiving with the Festival of Lights Kick-Off Party through whatever is the community’s last big social event before Arizona’s heat chases us all indoors.

Fittingly, that ending will come in 10 days, when the Festival of Lights Committee holds its annual Wine and Beer Tasting Festival 6:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Rawhide Western Town. Tickets are $50 now, and $60 if you wait till you get there. Get them at any Safeway store in Ahwatukee as well as at azfol.org.

If you go, you’ll have the time of your life: Over 50 wines, food pairings and local breweries. Music and dancing to the a very good band called Tripwire. A silent auction with some pretty neat items. Line dancing with Ahwatukee’s own Carrie McNeish. A spirits “pay bar.”

For those of you who don’t want to worry, go there with a designated driver or beef up your Uber or Lyft account.

But even a teetotaler will have a good time.

Yes, AFN is one of several dozen sponsors, but I’m speaking from experience here, having attended my first Wine & Beer Fest last year. Festival of Lights Chair Janyce Hazlett called it the best part of the year in Ahwatukee, or words to that effect – and I couldn’t agree more.

Regardless of whether you think Rawhide Western Town is a tad hokey, its location in the middle of the desert makes for a beautiful late-spring evening site. It teems with a lot of fun people that night and along with the food, beverages and music, even Scrooge would kick up his heels.

Speaking of Scrooge, remember what this party is all about. This and the Kick-Off Party together pay for those million lights along Chandler Boulevard throughout the Christmas season.

When you think about it, the light display is Ahwatukee’s gift to the community and the world beyond. I consider it the equivalent of all those individual homeowners who decorate their houses for Christmas – only this is done by a committee of dedicated, enthusiastic Ahwatukee residents who are proud of a tradition that says a lot about the community and its people.

I think it’s pretty amazing – and exceptionally inventive – that this tradition is financially supported not by a dry, lifeless beg-a-thon but by two parties, one for families the day after Thanksgiving and one for adults at Rawhide.

It’s hard to imagine a more painless way to support something that not only the whole community can enjoy but something that the community gives to the world for Christmas.

And it’s hard to imagine a way to do that that is more fun.

So, go online or run to Safeway and get your tickets and prepare to have a blast.

And if you spot me there, come up and say hello.

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