/ Modified dec 19, 2023 5:22 p.m.

Sierra Vista Glow Ride brings holiday lights and cheer to Sierra Vista's neighborhoods

The event and charity has raised more than $26,000 dollars last year

SV Glow Ride 1.2 Participants in the annual SV Glow Ride cruising down Tacoma St. in Sierra Vista. December 16, 2023.
Summer Hom, AZPM News

Sierra Vistians don’t just decorate their trees and homes, some like to decorate their cars with holiday lights and tinsel for the annual Sierra Vista Glow Ride.

At the heart of the lighted parade of decorated cars, UTVs, and holiday cheers that fill the streets of Sierra Vista’s neighborhoods, is giving back to the community according to event coordinator Jai Rocha.

“We cruise through the neighborhoods. Some of the areas we go to we’re checking out the Christmas lights; some of the areas we go to we’re bringing them," said Rocha. "We take all the registration fees and all the money raised and we give it to Salvation Army. Last year, I think we raised a little over $26,000…

"We have a special agreement with Salvation Army where all the money raised from this event stays in Cochise County and not a dime is allowed to leave, so it does impact our local community through their programs whether it's for kids or if it's for the homeless — feeding the homeless — or if it's for different holiday programs where they're just trying to help families in need, it's just awesome to see an event like this give back," he continued.

It’s the sixth year that the event has taken place, which has a couple hundred vehicles participating each year.

Haddie Faust Haddie Faust (age 3 and a half) rides in the Youth Glow Ride event at Veterans Memorial Park in Sierra Vista Saturday. December 16, 2023.
Summer Hom, AZPM News

Sierra Vista residents Debra Benge and her daughter Erin Benge participated in the glow ride this year and last year.

"I think we had 60 feet of lights wrapped around our side-by-side," Debra Benge said. "We’re going for 90 feet this year plus extra decorations because they have a contest for ‘best decorated.’ … And, I don’t know, being able to make people smile — I mean, come on — how much more fun can you have?”

Erin Benge said her favorite part was bringing a little holiday cheer to locals in their neighborhoods.

"We definitely got lots of younger kids running out of the house saying ‘Mom, Dad, look there’s so many lights and cars,’” said Erin Benge.

The event also includes the Youth Glow Ride, where kids can decorate their toy motorized jeeps, bikes, and trikes and take a lap around Veterans Memorial Park. This year’s youth glow ride was led by Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. Registration for the Youth Glow Ride is free.

Dannels Glow Ride Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels leads the Youth Glow Ride event at Veterans Memorial Park Saturday. December 16, 2023.
Summer Hom, AZPM News

Rocha said that they change up the route each year and generally keep it a secret for safety reasons.

"We try to surprise the neighborhoods," said Rocha. "Plus, these neighborhoods aren't really intended for us to drive down with 300 vehicles at a time. They're not as lit as driving down Fry Blvd. So, just for safety reasons and keeping stuff straight and forward, we try not to release our map. But we drive, generally, we drive all the way over to the west end, circle around, make our way to the park."

Registration for the glow ride is $35; the proceeds from registration fees and raffle tickets are donated to the Salvation Army and used to cover the costs associated with the event.

Rocha said the goal is to bring families together.

"We want the kids to play with their parents, we want the parents to play with their kids," said Rocha. "We want to create something that it really comes from the heart and it really comes from that vibe. So really, that's the most important part to us is just helping bring families together right before the holiday season."

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