TEP steps in to keep lights on at Winterhaven Festival

Published: Dec. 23, 2016 at 1:29 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 11:12 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A Tucson holiday tradition for many is no longer at risk of going dark. Tucson Electric Power announced it will be the title sponsor of the Winterhaven Festival of Lights for the next five years.

The festival started nearly 70 years ago. It attracts more than 200,000 people every year to the midtown neighborhood near North Country Club and East Fort Lowell roads.

But this long-standing tradition was in jeopardy of shutting down. It's sponsor, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, is ending its sponsorship after many years of donating money. On Thursday, Dec. 22, TEP agreed to take over.

Folks were relieved to hear the announcement.

"I really would've been sad," Linda Little said. "For that many years to shut down, you just don't want to see that. It's such a great thing for the community and for the food bank."

Allan Panka said, "It's just amazing to see how decorated everything is. It's wonderful to bring the family and have a good time."

The festival chairman said it costs up to $90,000 to put on the festival every year. Most of that money helps pay for off-duty police officers, barricades, and insurance. TEP has donated LED lights to the festival in the past. They've now pledged to provide $40,000 for the next five years.

"We wanted to do something to say thank you to our customers and say thank you to the community, said Joe Barrios of Tucson Electric Power. "But it's also an excellent opportunity to talk about our energy efficiency program. It's a way to help our customers to go green and to reduce their energy costs. And what better place to talk about those and promote those than at an event where more and more you see LED lights?"

The festival starts every day at 6 p.m. through Dec. 26. For more information on TEP click HERE.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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