The Fifth Annual Queen Creek Side by Side (SXS) Christmas Cruise is set to roll this Saturday, Dec. 9. It has become a popular event around town and keeps growing every year.
"We started doing it to help spread joy by dressing up our off-roading vehicles with Christmas lights and parading through the neighborhoods," said Jen Masse, Queen Creek resident and organizer of the event. "We have had such a positive response that it just brings joy to continue putting it on each year."
A unique idea started by Masse and her husband, Nick, is now becoming a Queen Creek tradition.
"We had gone to a different SXS parade in another town and thought this would be great to have in Queen Creek," Masse explained. "So, the first year we drove around and the route was hard because we were trying to figure things out. But the second year, we drove around and got it nailed down to make it flow the best we could."
So who can participate in the parade and how?
"Really, anyone who wants to spread cheer can decorate their off-road vehicle, Jeep, car, whatever, and participate. All they have to do is join our Facebook group, Queen Creek SXS Christmas Cruise, to stay up to date on all information," Masse said.
To help fund the parade, they host a 50/50 raffle on the Facebook page "to help pay for the officers we have assisting us and by donations received by people or businesses. Otherwise it comes out of our pockets." Volunteers help Masse with printing things for the parade, helping to make all signs and T-shirts for the event.
"We put on a prize raffle at our staging area to help raise funds to make care packages for our troops. The raffle will be at our staging area and on our Facebook page, Queen Creek SXS Christmas Cruise," Masse said.
Along with hiring 12 police officers for the first time last year, they will do that again and also have two food trucks and porta potties along this year's parade route. They will continue to honor the U.S. military by collecting donated items for care packages they're putting together for soldiers overseas at the raffle tables at the staging area. They'll have SRP bins for the donations and thank you cards for those donating to be able to write to the soldiers. These donations can be necessities like toiletries, wet wipes, sunblock, socks, underwear, flip-flops, lip balm and powder. Snacks, including chips, salsa, nuts, cookies, beef jerky, non-melting candy and trail mix that isn't easily crushed in proper, factory packaging. Drink mixes in single-serving packets are also a good addition to donate to the troops.
"Staging starts at 2 p.m. at ALA Applied Technologies (7729 E. Pecos Road in east Mesa) and then we leave promptly at 6 p.m. to parade through 14 different neighborhoods throughout Queen Creek," Masse said.
The parade route goes through these Queen Creek neighborhoods this year:
- Remington Heights
- The Villages of Queen Creek
- Ashcreek/Ocotillo Heights
- Ironwood Crossing
- Spur Cross
- Charleston Estates
- Crismon Heights
- Queenland Manor
- Queen Creek Station
"We want the community to know we truly love putting this on and enjoy seeing the community come out in force to watch and wave at us as we go by. It's one of the many reasons we put the parade on. It's not just about us, but about our community," Masse added. "I hope everyone enjoys the parade and takes lots of pictures or videos because we love seeing them."
Melissa Lombardo Lord, aunt of Combs High School junior Preston Lord, 16, who was severely beaten Oct. 28 and died from "a severe brain injury" as a result of the assault Oct. 30, is grateful for all the community support that continues as local police and the FBI continue their investigation.
"Our family has been so very grateful for all of the community support," she said. "YESCO and my cousin, Jamie, have been printing and donating hundreds of #justice4prestonlord decals. We will have them and orange bracelets at this event, so please find us to grab yours. I would love to light up the parade with as many stickers, orange or candle lights as we can."
For more information on the community SXS Christmas parade, visit the Queen Creek SXS Christmas Cruise Facebook page or contact Masse by email, Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone, 480-735-9600.