Community Members Showcase Creativity for Christmas Lights Contest

Emma Hughes
Gila River Indian News


The annual River of Lights parade was canceled this year due to the pandemic. The annual
parade, much like many of the events in the Community, would bring hundreds of people together during the holiday season to witness a festive parade along Casa Blanca road following-up with entertainment and a tree lighting at the Ira H. Hayes/Matthew B. Juan Memorial park
in Sacaton. 


The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has forced those festivities to be canceled and have been replaced with a house decorating contest for homes in the Community. Judging was held Dec. 18-19. Judges included Miss Gila River Alyse Marrietta, Jr. Miss Gila River Sineca Jackson, Miss Indian Arizona Amy Spotted Wolf, and the Ms/Mr. Indigenous ASU Committee court, including Miss Indigenous ASU Lourdes Pereira, Miss Indigenous ASU 1st Attendant Jolene Fernandez and Mr. Indigenous ASU Carlos Miramontes.


This year, 27 houses competed for cash prizes as judges traveled in a caravan style through the Community to view the entries. Beginning Friday evening, Dec. 18 royalty traveled to Districts 1-4. “It brings joy to my heart to see how many people participated,” said Jr. Miss Gila River Sineca 

Jackson during the viewing, looking for creativity and plenty of Christmas lights.



“They put so much work and effort into their houses. They look so amazing and I’m so proud of everyone who participated,” said Jackson.“It’s been really fun. One of my favorite things to do during Christmas is just to look around at the lights and this is the perfect event for me to do that,”
said Miss Indian Arizona, Amy Spotted Wolf while viewing entries in the District 6, a part
of the Community she hadn’t been to before.


“It’s pretty cool getting to explore a little bit, just being on the road is fun.” Other joining royalty shared that it was their first time visiting the Community.“We’re here to bring the spirit of Christmas, something that’s very much needed during this time” said Miss Gila River Alyse Marrietta who shared remarks at the end of the two-night judging, wishing everyone happy holidays.


Video of the contest entries and the royalty’s tour through the Community is featured on GRIC’s Facebook page. River of Lights House Decorating Contest winners are: 1st Place: Carmen Baldwin-Ortega - District 3, 2nd Place: Gerald Smith - District 73rd Place: Gina Enos - District 3