Parade registration info:
Electric Light Parade registration forms can be found at http://bit.ly/Freedomdaysparade.
FARMINGTON — A new Freedom Days parade organizer is stepping up to the plate after the community leader who organized the event since its start 28 years ago died.
Meagan Valencia is the new Electric Light Parade organizer for the 28th annual Freedom Days community celebration. She is picking up the reins after the death of Joyce Donald in November 2013.
Valencia said she saw the position listed on the Farmington Chamber of Commerce's mailing list and volunteered to organize the evening parade on July 4.
"It seemed like something different. It's not often you get a chance to throw a parade," Valencia said. "It's a pretty cool opportunity to get involved with."
When Valencia started planning the parade about three months ago, she had no idea where to begin.
Chamber President and CEO Audra Winters said Valencia reached out to her because the chamber organizes the annual Christmas parade in downtown Farmington.
Winters helped Valencia obtain parade permits, create an entry form and find judges for the event.
Winters described Donald as the "parade queen" and said Valencia has tried to maintain many of the elements Donald introduced, including honoring local veterans. Of Donald, she said, "she did an excellent job with the parade."
A big obstacle for Valencia was locating a sponsor for the parade and organizing a donation to a veterans group. She found a sponsor in The Bridge at Farmington Assisted Living and is working on raising funds for a local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter.
"The Bridge stepped up and was a lifesaver," Valencia said. "Without a sponsor, you don't put on a parade."
As the parade approaches, Valencia is working to finish the entries' order as registration forms roll in. Assigning parade participants their positions was described to her as the biggest and most stressful portion of the parade.
Tonya Stinson, executive director of the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Valencia has been doing a great job.
"She's been great and has so much enthusiasm," Stinson said. "Joyce's shoes are not easy to fill. For someone to step up and take on the role, I admire her for it.