For the 47th year, the Kiwanis Ahwatukee Easter Parade is bringing together a host of colorful floats, marching bands, Scout troops, and the official Easter Bunny to entertain spectators from across the Valley.
As the only Easter Parade in the Metro Phoenix area, the homegrown parade has expanded to include entries and spectators from outside the Village of Ahwatukee including the second-year appearance for the Gilbert Days Rodeo Teen Queens and the always- entertaining El Zaribah Shriners in miniature vehicles.
On Saturday, April 8, the Kiwanis Ahwatukee Easter Parade steps off at 10 a.m. from Warner Road, heading north along 48th Street to Elliot Road. Following the parade, the club’s Spring Fling and Craft Fair fills the nearby Ahwatukee Community Center Park, located at 48th and Warner Road.
This is a rain-or-shine event day. Of 46 parades (the COVID-interrupted 2020 and 2021 maintained the parade tradition using decorated members’ cars) only 2009 had rain, though skies cleared by starting time.
Mike Schmitt, holding the title of Parade Boss for the 31st year, said the response from the 330 invitations he sent out beginning in January, has “worked very successfully.”
As part of his duties, Schmitt continues to set the order of the 50-70 entries, and, using the descriptions from the various participants, writes the script read from the announcer’s stand.
“It takes 14 hours just to write the script,” he said.
Among the early entries were various dance groups, boys and girl Scout troops, and one of the longest-running participants, Mountain View Lutheran Church, which includes its Ahwatukee Preschool kids riding decorated bikes and wagons and handing out candy.
A new addition this year is Ahwatukee family operated Spencer 4 Hire Roofing, which stepped up early to claim the Grand Sponsor slot.
“We’re trying to be more active in our community, more involved, and make sure we give back where we can,” said owner Nathan Spencer. “
One perk for the Grand Sponsor is hosting the only adult Easter Bunny costume allowed in the parade.
Immediately following the nearly mile-long parade is another family-focused tradition: the annual Spring Fling and Craft Fair.
Kiwanis member Holly Dutton said there is an abundance of activities, food and fun set for the 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spring Fling and Craft Fair.
“The Spring Fling is a long-standing Ahwatukee family favorite, going since 2004. The club is proud of our long-time involvement with this event, and the way it brings so much fun to our local families and kids,” said Dutton.
“We have volunteers this year who’ve said they grew up going to the Easter parade and Spring Fling and have great childhood memories of it, and now they’re volunteering to help out.”
She said there are more food options this year, including local restaurants and new food trucks.
“This year we are adding more food choices including food trucks like Green Chile Love and Sweet Magnolia Smokehouse, and local favorites like Yoasis and Smallcakes.
“I’m especially excited about getting the chance to showcase a wide variety of local businesses and some really gorgeous jewelry and craft items,” she said.
Although adults and parents will find plenty to entertain them, Dutton said the focus remains on giving the younger visitors a good time.
“True to the Kiwanis mission- it’s all about the kids so we’ve got bounce houses, an Easter egg hunt, face painting, two different interactive STEM activity booths, animal friends and more,” she said.
Hosting the largest and oldest community event is a Herculean task for the 35-member Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee.
Founded in 1982, the Kiwanis Club engages in charitable projects year-round, including Foster Teens Thanksgiving, Foster Kids Christmas, Back to School Shopping Spree for economically disadvantaged school-age children, Community Baby Shower and more in addition to the volunteer-intensive Easter Parade and Spring Fling.
For more information on the April 8th Easter Parade and Spring Fling, see AhwatukeeEasterParade.com
Both volunteers and sponsors are still being accepted.
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