Businesses to benefit from new Parade of Lights route

Updated: Dec. 14, 2017 at 8:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Saturday's festivities are taking a detour and downtown Tucson businesses are reaping the benefits.

The annual Parade of Lights used to roll through the downtown Tucson neighborhoods around Christmas time.

But this year, for the 23rd annual event, all the festive fun will follow a new route through the downtown business district.

On Saturday night, starting at 6:30, the parade will take a trip from near the library and loop around, ending with a festival at Jacome Plaza.

It's been a concerted effort to give the plaza a boosted rejuvenation, led by Kathleen Eriksen, the President and CEO of the Downtown Tucson Partnership.

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So it's only right that her flagship holiday event should get a boost, too.

"It's really Parade of Lights on steroids," she said.

Why the change, you ask? The money.

"Sometimes people don't come downtown unless there is an event," Eriksen said. "We're able to attract people to see the downtown and notice new businesses that they may not have been aware were open."

Older businesses, too. Places like Borderlands Brewing Company will take advantage of the route adjustment.

On Thursday, patrons were already asking about the front row seat. With the Parade of Lights passing by the brewery on Toole Avenue, floats will be streaming right past patrons on the brewery's outdoor patio.

And for mildly selfish reasons, bartender Grace Hargis welcomes the change. She's lived in Tucson all her life.

"All my life. It's just not an event I've gone to. But I will this year because it's coming to me," Hargis said.

There will be new eyes on the parade, like Hargis', and new eyes on downtown.

"We're going to have over 20,000 people coming to downtown. We want those people to stay, eat, drink, and shop," Eriksen explained.

It's just what she and her colleagues had in mind.

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