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How Fountain Hills Got Its Thanksgiving Parade

Fountain Hills is home to the largest Thanksgiving Day Parade in the southwestern United States. Not too long ago, it was home to the only Thanksgiving Day Parade west of the Mississippi. If you’ve lived in town for a while, you may take this for granted. How did this holiday tradition begin?

History of La Parada de los Cerros

The story began when E.J. Goodwin and her family moved from Detroit, Michigan to Fountain Hills, Arizona in the early 1980s. Back then, Detroit was known for having a huge Thanksgiving Parade.

So, when the Goodwins moved to town, they were shocked to realize that there were no Thanksgiving Parades anywhere within a thousand-mile radius. Soon after moving in, Mrs. Goodwin asked the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce if she could start one. They said no, but she persisted.

Eventually, the Chamber of Commerce agreed to try out the Thanksgiving Parade idea for Thanksgiving 1984. They declared its official name “La Parada de Los Cerros,” which is Spanish for “The Parade of the Hills.”

The parade was a huge success, and it became an official tradition of Fountain Hills that continues to expand to this day. In fact, as of 2019, the Fountain Hills Parada de Los Cerros is still the second-largest Thanksgiving Parade in the United States. First place goes to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City.

This year’s Parade and Turkey Trot

This year’s Thanksgiving celebration begins with the Turkey Trot, the annual run and fitness walk. The Turkey Trot, an event sponsored by the Sonoran Lifestyle Team at RE/MAX Sun Properties, begins at 7:15 AM and ends at 9:00 AM, right as the parade begins.

The Thanksgiving Parade itself will go from 9:00 AM until around 10:30 AM. As usual, the floats will be cycling around the Town Center, beginning at the Fountain Lake and ending at the intersection of Parkview and La Montana.

It’s free to attend and the parking is free too, so come on down to watch the floats and embrace the festivities!

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About Fountain Hills

Ancient Desert Dwellers: The Hohokam

Have you hiked to the Dixie Mine and seen the petroglyphs? Have you heard people talk about an ancient ball court near the Verde River? Who were the ancient people who lived here and how did they live?

This area was inhabited by the Hohokam people from 300 to 1500 CE, but cultural precursors may have been here since 300 BCE.

Our modern knowledge of their lives in the lower Verde Valley dates to 1861 when Charles Poston reported “the remains of three large Indian villages just above the confluence of the Verde and Salt Rivers.” At that time, a heated battle pitted Tucson against Prescott for gaining the permanent seat of government for the new Arizona territory. This area adjacent to Fountain Hills, Fort McDowell, and the Verdes, which was referred to as Azatlan, was proposed as a neutral location, but Prescott won the bid.

Hohokam

The earliest Hohokam were nomadic, following the streams and natural food sources. By 300 CE, they had built canals to irrigate crops of squash, corn, and beans. These crops supplemented their hunting and gathering lifestyle, allowing them to become more sedentary. This gave them time to start making pottery by about 500 CE.

In 1991, part of the Azatlan site just north of Rio Verde was excavated. Archaeologists found five seasonal activity places, two “farmsteads” with dwelling sites, one of which had three pithouses clustered around a courtyard in the Hohokam style. Excavations also revealed roasting pits, cremation burials, tool manufacturing, and pottery sherds. A Hohokam ball court was also discovered nearby.

On Shea Boulevard, from the Fountain Hills-Scottsdale border to the area south of Mayo Clinic, a metate quarry was identified. A metate (pronounced meh-tah-tay) is the lower unit of a two-part grinding stone. The handheld stone, called a mano, was used to grind corn, jojoba, mesquite, palo verde, ironwood, and other seeds that required processing before eating.

As the stones rubbed together to grind the food, little bits of rock would break off and mix into the meal. Over time, these little stones eroded their teeth. Archaeologists uncovered skeletal remains identified to be about 20-years-old but had the worn teeth of a modern 70-year-old. This resulted in a shorter lifespan.

The peak population in this area reached several thousand people around 900-1100 CE. By 1500, they had mostly disappeared, possibly due to the Great Drought at the end of the 13th century. The later occupants, the Pima and Tohono O’odham (Papago) are thought to be direct descendants of the Hohokam.

You can learn more about the Hohokam at the River of Time Museum when it reopens. ROTMuseum.com.

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About Fountain Hills

New Local Dining Options Abound

The appeal of dining out has not waned for most people over the last year. Not only have our local restaurants remained open, but several new eateries have come to life during this time, too.

GEORGIE’S DINER

Fountain Hills Dining

Georgie’s was located on La Montana for years, but they recently relocated to Park Place on Avenue of the Fountains with a brand-new look, an updated menu, and a large patio area. Although they have breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, many people are thrilled to find out they serve breakfast all day. Gluten-free eaters can easily find a great meal here. And word on the street is that they serve great liver and onions.

Website: Georgies.me

FOUNTAIN HILLS FOOD CART

After a temporary hiatus, Dakota and Austin are back with an incredible state-of-the-art food truck to serve outstanding hotdogs. They have also expanded their menu to include hamburgers. If you are gluten-free, try their delicious tacos. You can find them Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on the Avenue of the Fountains between Chase Bank and the new ZAB Thai restaurant.

Follow their Facebook page for updates.

PAPAYA’Z

Papaya’z Smoothie & Juice Bar is also located in Park Place on Avenue of the Fountains. In addition to healthy drinks with real ingredients, they also serve delicious gluten-free crepes and some sandwiches, including a gluten-free croissant sandwich. If you want a healthy breakfast, lunch, or snack, this is the place.

Follow their Facebook page for updates.

SIPPS EATERY

Located in the former Starbucks at 16425 E. Palisades, Sipps Eatery is a coffee shop and a gathering place. They serve breakfast and lunch items with all your favorite coffees. There are also options for kids. They even offer sinfully delicious gluten-free pastries.

Website: SippsEatery.com

ZAB THAI

Fountain Hills Dining

Another new restaurant on Avenue of the Fountains is the new Zab Thai Kitchen. The original Thai food menu includes rolls, soups, curry dishes, orange chicken, fried rice, pad thai, and more. Gluten-free eaters will have no problem with a great curry dish. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from Noon to 8:00 PM.

Follow their Facebook page for updates.

PEARL NUTRITION

Fountain Hills Dining

This new establishment offers healthy protein shakes, waffles, herbal teas, hydration drinks, and more. The shakes and teas are created to improve digestion, cardiovascular health, and to give you a boost to help you feel revitalized. Located at 16425 E. Palisades.

Follow their Facebook page for updates.

EMBER

Ember at We-Ko-Pa is a new fine dining experience in Fort McDowell. Enjoy fine steaks and seafood prepared over wood-fired grills and a specialty cocktail menu, whiskey library, and extensive wine list. Dine seasonally by the outdoor fireplace or relax in the separate piano lounge with live entertainment.

Website: WekopaCasinoResort.com/dining/ember

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About Fountain Hills

About Town…Spring 2021

Despite all that has happened over the last year, our community has learned to pivot and to find new ways of doing what we have always done. And while we are all eager to get back to “normal”, some of these new ways may find a permanent place in our future.

Here are a few things we think you should check out.

BROADWAY IN THE HILLS

Broadway in the Hills...About Town

Be part of the fun when the community comes together in support of our local Fountain Hills Theater for an evening of music and song on Saturday, April 17 at 7:30 PM. Plenty of familiar personalities will sing alongside theater performers, including Mayor Ginny Dickey, past mayors, current and past council members, Chamber of Commerce staff, service club members, and so many more!

The evening is hosted by Mistress of Ceremonies, Liza Minnelli, performed by Patrick Russo, along with other celebrity impersonators. Individually wrapped appetizers from Phil’s Filling Station will be served and beverages will be available.  To reserve your tickets for this outdoor event and help support our local theater, visit fhtaz.org/bih.

FOUNTAIN OF LIGHT

Fountain of Light...About Town

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of our iconic fountain, local artist Brian Schader is bringing a new sculpture to our public art collection. This magnificent glass spire, inspired by our fountain, will sit proudly on the Avenue of the Fountains to greet visitors and residents as they approach one of the most frequented boulevards in our town.

The sculpture is sponsored by the Fountain Hills Cultural & Civic Association along with the Town of Fountain Hills and the Public Art Committee. You are invited to commemorate a loved one on the base of this 45-foot likeness of the fountain. Learn more about these commemorative spots at iLoveFountainHills.org/fountain-of-light.

FOUNTAIN HILLS DAYS

Fountain Hills Days is making its debut on May 15, 2021 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce is breathing new life into their annual Community Expo. It will combine the business expo with local food tastings, music, and activities for the kids.

This family-friendly fun event will be held outdoors at the Fountain Hills Community Theater. Sponsorships are available. Visit FountainHillsChamber.com/community-expo for more details.

DARK SKY INSPIRATION SERIES

Since a Dark Sky Festival could not be planned this spring, the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association pivoted to an online Dark Sky Inspiration series. Each month, they will release a new video. These will include presentations about dark matter from FHHS graduate Nick DePorzio, Mayan archaeoastronomy, and the Hubble space program. We will learn about Dr. Charles Jules who discovered over 500 asteroids from his backyard observatory in Fountain Hills. And Dr. Jeffrey Hall, director of Lowell Observatory, will share on a fun astronomical subject.

For more information about this ongoing series, visit FHDarkSky.com.

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About Fountain Hills

Fountain Hills Community Garden: Growing Together

When a Girl Scout asked Dr. Jyoti Patel what she had done for the community, it motivated her to move forward with her idea for starting a Community Garden in Fountain Hills. In March of 2016, she pulled together a group of energetic residents with a shared vision and started planning.

Rita Applegate, the garden’s manager, got involved from the very beginning. Her goal was to create a “showstopper” garden on 1.8 acres of Town property under the nonprofit umbrella of the Fountain Hills Cultural & Civic Association.

“We created a Board of Directors of talented and passionate people,” Applegate said. “But I want to be clear that this project could not have happened without the cooperation of the Town, local businesses and nonprofit organizations, and hundreds of focused volunteers with a passion for the project.”

Applegate created a 4-phase plan that began with 67 beds for lease in early 2017. Next, they added another 62 beds, installed a greenhouse, and laid pavers for major walkways. A shed, 6 compost bins, and 8 trees followed.

Phase Four took the garden to a new level with a beautiful demonstration pavilion. This cooking space includes stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and a shade structure. It is the location for the garden’s Healing Food Series. These classes bring in local chefs, restaurant owners, and nutritionists to show guests how to prepare delicious and healthy recipes with ingredients from their gardens.

Today, the garden has 123 leasable raised beds, 6 ADA beds, 5 food bank beds, and 2 dedicated children’s gardens. A bee enclosure was added with 2 regular beehives and 2 Flow hives. Without the bees, gardeners would have to self-pollinate everything they grow.

“We communicate regularly to our gardeners that this is THEIR garden. We want them to have pride in this space and to maintain their beds with that in mind.”

Applegate and fellow manager Joy Hubbard both love to mentor gardeners and to inspire other garden leaders across the Valley to share the secrets of her success, giving them a glimpse into how it can be done.

Last year, the Lower Verde Valley Hall of Fame recognized the Fountain Hills Community Garden with the Legacy Award. To become a garden member and gain access to the tips and tricks the garden members share, visit www.iLoveFountainHills.com.

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Pet-Friendly Fountain Hills

Fountain Hills residents love their pets! And our community makes it easy to happily own them.

The best way to find a new pet to bring into your family is through adoption. Cat lovers will fall in love with all the felines at Fearless Kitty, a rescue organization located on Avenue of the Fountains. If you are a dog person, Rescue Pals operates in cooperation with Pal’s Inn Pet Resort on Saguaro Blvd. in front of Desert Vista Park.

Pal’s Inn Pet Resort offers boarding and daycare to accommodate your busy lifestyle or travel plans. They also have grooming services and training classes, both group and private. Boarding is available for dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and more. You can also purchase food, toys, and other retail items to make your life with your pet more convenient and enjoyable.

Our community has no shortage of veterinarians. These include El Dorado Animal Hospital, Fountain Hills Veterinary Hospital, Friendship Pet Hospital, and Palisades Veterinary Hospital.

If you lack a backyard, but Fido needs a place to run off his daily allotment of energy, check out the Desert Vista Dog Park at 11800 N. Desert Vista. This is one of the Town’s most used amenities. The park is a 3-acre fenced facility that is divided into two areas, one for larger dogs and the other for smaller ones. Dogs can run off-leash here.

And as a community that really cares, dog-loving individuals have formed their own group called Fountain Hills Lost Pets. They organize their efforts through a Facebook group and have successfully reunited many lost pets with their owners. Pal’s Inn also helps with these lost pets who need a place to stay for the night.

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21 Things to Do With Out of Town Guests

You are having out-of-town guests for a few days and you want to give them a feel for living in the Fountain Hills area. What can you do with them?

There is no reason to be stumped on this one. Fountain Hills and the surrounding area is full of things to do that will appeal to all ages, activity levels, and interests. Here’s our roundup of the best things to do so your guests have a great time and discover why you love living here.

  1. Visit the fountain. A no-brainer for photo opportunities and a leisurely walk.
  2. Golf. Choose from public courses in Fountain Hills, the Verdes, and Fort McDowell.
  3. Hike. Try the Desert Botanical Trail, Lake Overlook Trail, Dixie Mine, or Adero Canyon.
  4. Mountain biking. Rent a mountain and take a ride in McDowell Mountain Park.
  5. Horseback riding. Offered through Fort McDowell Adventures or Saguaro Lake Ranch Stables.
  6. Disc golf. Get gear from Fountain Hills Express or Paul’s Ace Hardware and head to Fountain Park.
  7. Saguaro Lake. Rent a boat or tour with Desert Belle Cruises.
  8. Attend a Star Party. ADERO Scottsdale offers these outside their amazing new restaurant, Cielo.
  9. River of Time Museum. Although closed at this time, keep this one on your list for discovering local history.
  10. Visit an art gallery. Choose from numerous art galleries that serve our local artists.
  11. Art Walk Tour. Take a free docent-led tour of more than 150 pieces of public art.
  12. Get a drink. Try out local watering holes at Grapeables, Aguamenti, or Bone Haus Brewing.
  13. Enjoy fountain and mountain view dining. Visit a downtown restaurant or a local golf club.
  14. Chocofin Chocolatier. Indulge in fine chocolates and delicious ice cream.
  15. Sami Fine Jewelry. Discover custom amethyst designs from the Four Peaks mine.
  16. Fort McDowell Casino. Play, eat, and stay the night at the newly expanded We-Ko-Pa.
  17. Take a Jeep tour. See the desert Desert Dog Offroad Adventures or Arizona Private Jeep Excursions.
  18. Take the kids to the park. We have four parks with great playgrounds.
  19. Fountain Hills Theater. Delight guests of all ages at our award-winning theater.
  20. Attend a car show. Every Sunday at Phil’s Filling Station.
  21. Events on the Avenue. You’ll find a farmer’s market, Art on the Avenue, and other seasonal events.

With so many great activities to choose from, your guests will discover right away why you love Fountain Hills.