As the push starts to get sponsors and volunteers for Queen Creek's annual holiday festival and parade, organizers are worried about raising donations for the event in the current economy.
It usually costs about $5,000 to $10,000 to put on the parade, which will be on Dec. 6 this year. The planning committee can usually raise an additional $10,000 to $15,000 to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs, said event chairman Chris Clark.
Some local businesses have found the minimum $1,000 sponsor contribution difficult to make in the past, which prompted organizers to create a special Queen Creek business rate of $500 this year, Clark said.
"But even at that level, in this environment, it can be difficult," Clark said.
Organizers are also pushing to sign up volunteers, both to plan the parade and following community festival and to staff the event on the day. Parade chairwoman Monica Munoz said the event needs at least 100 volunteers to run smoothly, but the group got only about 40 to show up last year.
"Some of our (bounce houses) we had to close down because we didn't have enough people to man them," Munoz said.
The town's growth also created some special challenges creating the parade route this year. This is the first year the planning committee has had to contend with Ellsworth Loop Road being open, which can't be closed for the parade, Clark said.
So organizers developed a route west of Ellsworth Loop Road instead.
This year's parade will start just north of Chandler Heights Road, go north on Hawes Road, then turn onto Ocotillo Road to go into Desert Mountain Park.
That's not only where the festival will happen, it will also be the best viewing spot for the parade because that's where the judges booth is going to be, Munoz said.
Munoz is expecting about 65 entries in this year's parade, which is the same number that participated last year.
Dave Pratt, morning disc jockey for radio station KMLE (107.9 FM), will serve as grand marshal.
And while Munoz hasn't heard of anyone actually starting to build floats yet, she has heard groups are already starting on cartoon-inspired plans to go along with this year's theme, "Animated Christmas."
"We're hoping it's going to be just as good as last year, if not better," she said.