The “West’s Most Western Town” is once again celebrating its eclectic heritage and history with an annual February gathering called Western Week.
Western Week 2020 officially opens in Old Town Scottsdale on February 1 with several Western-themed artistic events, followed by the Parada del Sol and Trail’s End Festival, which draws some of the event’s largest crowds.
“The Parada del Sol is one of the oldest continuous Scottsdale events,” said Don Chiappetti, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Parada del Sol Historic Parade and Trail’s End Festival. “The parade is the originating element of Western Week, and it’s the crown jewel of the whole festivity.”
This year marks the 67th anniversary of the Parada del Sol, which is organized and managed by a team of loyal volunteers – many of whom are Scottsdale natives who have been associated with the parade in some form or another their entire lives.
“From marching in the parade as a Girl or Boy Scout or with a band,” Chiappetti said, “everyone has a story to tell about the Parada del Sol. I’ve been involved since I was two; I’ve been a participant, a spectator and now I’m an organizer.”
The Parada del Sol started in 1953 when a group of local families and ranchers came together for a picnic and a small rodeo in the area where Scottsdale and Camelback Roads intersect today. Their get-together, which they called The Sunshine Festival, eventually evolved into the Parada del Sol, which means a “walk in the sun.”
“What started as a celebration of family and community lives on through the Parada del Sol and the Trail’s End Festival,” Chiappetti said. “These are completely free activities that are grassroots, fun and family-friendly and a pinnacle Scottsdale event that has people returning year after year.”
The Parada del Sol kicks off February 7 when the Hashknife Pony Express gallops into town ushering in one of Western Week’s most anticipated shows.
“Twenty to 30 horseback riders, who carry the U.S. mail from Holbrook to Scottsdale, ride up to the Museum of the West at high noon marking the official beginning of the Parada del Sol,” Chiappetti said.
The parade begins at 10 a.m. and goes until noon, from Drinkwater Boulevard down Scottsdale Road ending at Brown Avenue in Old Town.
“The parade includes approximately 125 entries,” Chiappetti said. “Parade goers can expect to see everything from a firefighter’s bagpipe corps, to Mexican dancing horses, to golden retriever rescue groups, to school bands and many horses, wagons and dignitaries.”
Starting literally at the ‘end of the trail’, where the Parada del Sol ends, the Trail’s End Festival begins. From noon to 4 p.m., the roads in Old Town are closed for an old-fashioned street celebration.
The festival will have three entertainment venues. One stage will feature contemporary and historic Mexican musical performances, including ballet folklórico. Another stage will highlight current and classic country music and the third stage will be dedicated to rock ‘n’ roll.
“The heritage and history of Scottsdale includes Native Americans, cowboys and Hispanics,” Chiappetti said, “and we want to celebrate all the cultural diversity Scottsdale embodies. We treasure and want to impart everyone with the cultural and artistic elements of our shared past.”
Paying homage to Arizona’s Native American population, the Arizona Indian Festival runs February 8-9 at the nearby Scottsdale Civic Center. This educational event highlights all 22 of Arizona’s tribes and includes authentic cooking demonstrations, elder storytelling and performances.
While Western Week wraps up in February, that does not mean that the sun has set on all the Western fun that Scottsdale has to offer. On March 6, 7 and 8, the Parada del Sol Rodeo will be at WestWorld of Scottsdale.
For more: paradadelsol.net.
PARADA del sol RODEO
WHERE: WestWorld of Scottsdale,
16601 N. Pima Road
WHEN: March 6-8, 2020
TIME: 7 p.m. on Friday and
Saturday, Sunday at 2 p.m.
“Arizona is right at the beginning of competitive rodeo history,” said Dave Alford, general manager of the Parada del Sol Rodeo and the Scottsdale Rodeo Museum. “It actually started with the ranches in Prescott, the world’s oldest rodeo. Cowhands would brag they were the best rider or the best roper, so they would have these contests to see who really was the best.”
“We take pride in putting on our rodeo,” Alford said, “and in our Rodeo Museum, we focus on the history of the Scottsdale Rodeo through our displays of memorabilia including artwork, bull ropes and saddles.”