On the evening of December 31, families and friends gathered at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Building to help ring in the New Year at the Community New Year’s Eve Celebration.
Temperatures below 60 degrees did not dampen the enthusiasm, kids bundled up in sweaters and jackets as they stood in line for the carnival rides and games on the midway while families waited to purchase food from vendors.
Adults and seniors waited in the parking lot to get into the Pi-Copa Gym to find a table near the dance floor. Community-member DJ Tony Santo played music of many different genres. The tables inside the gym were decorated with purple, black and silver to complement the theme of a city skyline. After Santo finished playing his songs, the chicken-scratch dancing started, with music by Native band T.O. Braves. Many couples and kids danced to every song they played.
“This year we had more fun here at the carnival,” said Shaeleen Alvarez, who enjoyed the rides.
“I think this year it feels safer and more fun,” said Kenny Toya, who was also playing games and enjoying the rides.
A total of 2,000 wrist bands were sold for the rides, and Community Relations Events Coordinator Yvonne Schaaf said this year there was a fuller midway-style carnival with more funhouses. New this year was the Octopus, a popular ride at amusement parks state fairs. The lines were long for the Octopus, making it a favorite to possibly return next year.
As midnight approached, everyone had received their New Year’s Eve party favors and got ready for the countdown to “Happy New Year!”
Every year the Community hosts this New Year’s Eve carnival event, and it draws in more than 3,000 guests.