Special events help boost Scottsdale’s quality of life and economy

While much of the country is homebound and shivering each winter, Scottsdale sizzles with energy, pageantry and the roar of big crowds.

Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips

Even before the calendar turns, fans flock to local resorts for the Valley’s burgeoning collection of college bowl games. The momentum builds with a week of collector car shows, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Parada del Sol and the All-Arabian Horse Show. The season culminates with the Cactus League and a month of spring training games.

Each of these events holds a unique place in our heritage, culture and community. Collectively, they shine a national spotlight on Scottsdale; they create a near continuous celebration that fuels our economy, boosts our quality of life and creates lasting memories.

Pioneering these events and nurturing their growth was no accident. Scottsdale’s founders realized the Valley’s mild winters, natural beauty and open spaces were ideal for hosting events and attracting visitors.

Besides, who doesn’t like a party?

Scottsdale’s Parada del Sol Parade proved the point when it launched in 1951 as the Sunshine Festival. With its school bands, handmade floats and horses (lots and lots of horses), the Parada captured an authentic, home-grown Western vibe. Anyone who had a horse could ride in the Parada and local scout troops tagged behind to pick up the droppings. The over-the-top antics of these shovel brigades became their own attraction.

If you weren’t in the parade, chances are you watched it from a folding chair on Scottsdale Road. Then you followed the thump of drums and bass guitars to the Trail’s End celebration for an afternoon of libations and dancing.

Not a whole lot has changed on Parada Saturday over the years. It’s still a slice of boot-scooting, poop-scooping, small town America. From that modest celebration, however, has blossomed a dazzling bouquet of world-renown events that attract A-list celebrities, Prada-pursed tourists, business barons and media primed to cover every angle of the unfolding spectacle.

Scottsdale hosted 9.1 million visitors in 2013, the latest statistics available. Their spending generated more than $4 billion in local economic impact, including $38 million in city sales tax. They came here for many reasons, but events and activities are both in the top 10.

Special events energize our economy and are part of our community DNA. Now the question is, where do we go from here? In the best tradition of Scottsdale, it seems almost everyone has a piece of the answer — or at least an opinion to share.

Visionaries, community groups and entrepreneurs step forward each year with ideas for new events or plans to invigorate established ones. The City Council recently approved several programs to support this evolution and ensure that Scottsdale special events stay that way:

  • The Community Event Funding Program is designed to assist nonprofit events that have historical value, celebrate community spirit and contribute to “Love of Place.” Individual event funding is available for up to $30,000.
  • The Matching Event Advertising Funding Program is designed to assist events that promote Scottsdale’s attractiveness and generate Scottsdale hotel room nights. Individual event funding for this program ranges from $5,000 to $30,000.
  • The Event Venue Fee Funding Program is designed to help support participant-driven events that are held in city-owned venues and generate room nights. Events that qualify can receive funding from $5,000 to $25,000.
  • Additional funding opportunities are available for events that promote Scottsdale as a destination attraction outside the Valley market.

For more information on the programs and an application form, call 312-2728 or email hshannon@ScottsdaleAZ.gov.

Scottsdale’s lineup of special events is obviously geared around fun, excitement and experiences that kindle fond memories. But as community founders discovered six decades ago, throwing a good party can also support jobs, businesses and the local economy.

Together, that’s a good combination worth growing into our future.

Editor’s note: Mr. Phillips is the Scottsdale Public Affairs manager

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