The plans are set for the second annual Mesquite Parade of Lights to be held on Dec. 8 at 5:30 p.m. on Mesquite Boulevard.
While the event brought plenty of joy to attendees last year, the mission it supports is even larger. Organizer Mike Benham and his committee hope to make this year’s event even bigger and bring in even more food for Mesquite’s two food banks, the Virgin Valley Food Bank and the Salvation Army. All food received through the event will be divided evenly between the two.
Last year, nearly 1,000 pounds of food was collected with nearly half of that coming from the Mesquite Police Department’s float who won for the Most Food Gathered Award. “We want to bring in at least 2,000 pounds of food this year,” said Benham. To do so, there have been some changes to this year’s process.
For starters, all entrants must have a minimum of 20 pounds of food to be in the parade itself.
The fundraiser committee is also asking that each person who comes to watch the parade bring one to two cans each. Volunteers with the Mesquite CERT team will collect those items along the parade route during the parade. “If everyone brought at least one can, we could hit or exceed our goal easily,” said Benham.
Applications to participate in the parade are available at City Hall, 10 E. Mesquite Blvd. and are due to the City Clerk, Tracy Beck, by Nov. 30 at 5 p.m. There will be a full set of rules provided in those application packets.
As a safety precaution, float participants will not be able to throw candy out from their vehicles or floats. “There are just too many safety concerns, especially with it being dark,” said Benham. Participants who want to hand out candy can walk beside their floats and hand the items to the children as needed.
There will also be a participant meeting before that deadline on Nov. 29 at the Mesquite Senior Center at 5 p.m. so float organizers can be briefed on procedures at the event. One change to this year’s requirements is that there will only be one Santa and Mrs. Claus and they are riding on the Fire Engine. No other floats will be allowed to have the two icons on their float.
Floats are also required to be completely set up at their staging area by 4:45 p.m. prior to the parade. The judges will be viewing the entries at that time and making their decision prior to the start of the parade.
The judging of the floats for Best Light Display will be decided prior to the parade in the staging area on Arrowhead Lane by Mayor Al Litman, Capt. Lisa Smith with the Salvation Army and Leslee Montgomery, Director of the Virgin Valley Food Bank. Last year, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue took home the trophy for Best Light Display and is rumored to already be setting things up to defend that title.
Both awards, for most food donated and best light display, will be given to the recipients after the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting that begins directly after the parade in the City Hall Amphitheatre. Some seats will be provided for the public with the City of Mesquite providing risers to sit on in addition to the current grass area. There will be several performances by local artists and musicians as well as the traditional hot cocoa and cookies provided by the Eureka Casino Hotel and candy canes donated by the Virgin Valley Food Bank.