It may look a lot like Christmas when you see a parade of lights coming down the boulevard but when you add benefit to the light parade, it feels a lot like Christmas too.

The Eureka Resort Casino and Rising Star Sports Ranch won “Best Float” in the second annual Parade of Lights held on Dec. 8. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Each year the community has generously donated non-perishable food items, before and during the parade, that help feed many families in the Virgin Valley area throughout the holiday season. Food collected by parade entrants and watchers benefit the Virgin Valley Food Bank and the Salvation Army of Mesquite.

It is that generosity that epitomizes the spirit of Christmas and Mesquite is a very generous community.

Last year the food donations exceeded the goal three times over; much more than parade Chairman, Mike Benham, hoped for.  Benham’s goal last year was conservative, he simply wanted to double the 1,000 pounds collected in the inaugural parade of 2015; his heart soared and his knees when weak when he discovered that  they had collected 6,000 pounds.

Mesquite Police Department won the prize last year for most food collected. The MPD provided 2,700 pounds of non-perishable items which they collected at the Police Department located at 695 Mayan Circle. They have already begun collections this year at the Mayan station but there’s still time to help them win again this year; you can donate anytime by stopping by the station. If you have a large quantity of food items and can’t deliver them, a couple of big, burly but friendly policemen will be happy to pick them up for you.

The Third Annual Mesquite Parade of Lights and food drive, on Dec. 7 will kick off the start of the Christmas season in Mesquite with over 20 entries, a few less than last year but several who are new to the parade this year.

This year parade Chair and Benham and Tracy Beck, are asking community members who attend the parade to bring two cans of unexpired food to the parade. The Boy Scouts will be pushing shopping carts along the boulevard during the parade to collect your donations.

After the parade you can meet at City Hall for pictures with Santa, cookies and Hot Chocolate courtesy of the Eureka Casino. The Eureka is also donating the trophies which will be handed out in three categories: ‘Best Lights’, ‘Most Food Collected’ and ‘Most People in your Group.’

In prior years, the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony has been held directly after the parade at City Hall but it won’t be this year. This year the tree will be lit before the parade; there will be no lighting ceremony.

In past years the weather has been cold and windy and had kept many residents from enjoying the ceremony after the parade; many went home before the evening was over. The parade is also held on school nights and committee members this year thought it would be best if the evening’s festivities didn’t last so long.  This year, families and children can enjoy their time with Santa, maybe some Christmas Carolers and still get home at a reasonable hour.

Parade committee members would like to remind you to:

Please stay off the medians; your safety is important.

The parade staging area will be in the LDS Chapel Parking lot on 100 North Arrowhead Lane.

Parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. and leave the LDS parking lot turning (left) south on North Arrowhead Lane (heading towards Mesquite Blvd).

Parade then will turn left (east) onto Mesquite Blvd heading in the normal direction of traffic.

Parade will be heading east for about 0.5 miles.

Parade then will turn left (north) ending on North Willow. Entries can head back to the staging area taking Old Mill Rd back to the LDS chapel on 100 North Arrowhead.

Beginning at 5 p.m. traffic will be diverted off Mesquite Boulevard between Woodbury and Sandhill Blvd.

Gather the entire family, come join the fun on Dec. 7 and please give generously so those less fortunate can also have a Merry Christmas.