Matt Deller, founding director of the Sounds of the Southwest Singers, remembers well his first go-around with Glendale’s Hometown Christmas Parade.
It was the second year of the event, which will kick off its 8th annual run at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, in Historic Downtown Glendale. Deller attended a parade planning committee meeting to see what it was all about.
Mayor Jerry Weiers shared an idea that “really got us all pretty excited,” Deller recalled.
He wanted to set a Guinness World Record for the largest group of singers with the Sounds of the Southwest Singers at the heart of the effort. They may not have set a record, but in the end the Singers were the final float of the parade, with choir members riding the float and walking beside it, and eventually getting more than 1,000 attendees to join the Christmas caroling walk over the last two of the eight-block parade route.
“It was such a great way to have audience participation,” Deller recalled. “We didn’t set a world record but we all sure had a lot of fun trying.”
This year the choir will feature about 40 singers on its float along with Deller as director, a pianist, and a powerful outdoor sound system. The rest of the Singers’ approximately 100-voice choir will walk beside and behind the float, and will continue the tradition of enticing the crowd to walk down the route along the way singing carols.
Event proceeds and donations support Glendale’s Hope For Hunger Food Bank, located at 5605 N. 55th Ave.
Parade staging will be at 51st Avenue south of Glendale Avenue, and the route proceeds west on Glendale to 58th Avenue where it turns south toward the de-staging area.
Although COVID precautions canceled the 2020 Hometown Christmas Parade, the annual food drive didn’t stop. Even without the parade, more than $35,000 was donated to the Hope for Hunger Food Bank, operated by Phoenix Rescue Mission, making it a record year for monetary donations.
During the four-month holiday drive, community supporters also donated more than 11,900 pounds of nonperishable food, including 238 turkeys.
“We can do a lot with cash donations,” said Danny Dahm, with Hope for Hunger Food Bank. “We are usually able to buy things we need wholesale and get much better pricing.”
Many parade sponsors last year donated their entry fees directly to the Hope for Hunger Food Bank even after the parade was called off.
“The need for food doesn’t end with the holiday season,” Hometown Christmas Parade Committee president Chris Kelly stated. “This year especially, please consider donating to Hope for Hunger, Phoenix Rescue Mission, or any other food bank found in the Valley.”
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