APS has become one of the major corporate sponsors of Payson events in the past year, including the Fiesta Bowl Parade, the Fourth of July fireworks, the Electric Light Parade, the Black and White Ball, the Rodeo Parade and Gracie Lee Haught Foundation events, thanks to the efforts of a local team headed by Customer Service Leader Mark Kotschedoff.
He and his Rim Country co-workers continually look for ways to support the community through the APS corporate giving program.
Kotschedoff has an inside track on finding out about the cool stuff going on the Rim Country.
“I belong to the Kiwanis club,” said Kotschedoff. “It provides a lot of information on local events that would be good to be involved with.”
For the Fiesta Bowl Parade, Kotschedoff’s involvement with the Kiwanis Club of Zane Grey Country helped to connect the Payson High School (PHS) band with APS.
“I told Terry Ricketts, ‘I’m in Kiwanis and the school superintendent is in Kiwanis, I can mention to him that the Payson High School band could be in the parade,’” said Kotschedoff.
Ricketts also served as the parade committee chair for the Fiesta Bowl Parade.
“That was my goal, to expose America (during the Fiesta Bowl Parade) to what makes up Arizona.”
Arizona Public Service
He knows Payson well since he has marched in the Rodeo Parade for the last 21 years as an APS clown.
Ricketts was thrilled to bring the PHS band into the parade, but he proposed more.
He went to the Fiesta Bowl Committee to suggest waving the $15,000 float fee for smaller communities across the state to get more Arizona towns involved in the state’s largest spectator event.
“That was my goal,” said Ricketts, “to expose America to what makes up Arizona.”
The committee agreed and Ricketts felt he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
“The crowd loved all the entries, that’s how we all win,” he said. “If it would have sucked, it would have been my fault, but we gave them a lot of different flavors.”
He said the Tempe Community Float focused on technology, Payson had the pines, and Wickenburg put the limelight on their rodeo and the cactus-strewn desert landscape.
“It was a match made in heaven,” said Ricketts of the Arizona community floats and APS.
Payson’s journey to the Fiesta Bowl Parade started when Northern Arizona Community Relations Manager Brenda Hazlett of APS connected with John Stanton of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and Cameron Davis of the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.
“It started a year ago when I became friends with Cameron and John and found some new opportunities,” she said.
When she heard Ricketts’ proposal for the Fiesta Bowl Parade, “she jumped on it,” said Ricketts.
Hazlett worked with Davis and Stanton cooking up the idea of a float to accompany the band.
Kotschedoff said he was elated when he heard of the conversations between the town and the chamber.
Hazlett believes Payson’s success came from the relationships built over the last year.
“It’s been a really good relationship with the chamber and we’re bonded with Cameron,” she said of the APS-Rim Country partnership. “I think the biggest thing with APS is making an investment in the local non-profits, STEM education, and sustainable energy projects.”