Proud As Punch Of Payson


Dancing tree reunion: Sanja Long collects a hug from a fellow tree Thursday at a celebration of the volunteer effort that produced Payson’s award-winning Fiesta Bowl Parade float.

Dancing tree reunion: Sanja Long collects a hug from a fellow tree Thursday at a celebration of the volunteer effort that produced Payson’s award-winning Fiesta Bowl Parade float. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Payson High School band plays at the award ceremony.

Payson snatched a moment of calm before the storm on Thursday to celebrate its award-winning Fiesta Bowl Parade float — and to honor the hundreds of volunteers and businesses that made it possible.

With snowflakes already falling, Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Cameron Davis handed out plaques to a swarm of happy volunteers, with the Longhorn marching band and perhaps 200 spectators looking on. Payson Mayor Kenny Evans also took the microphone to say that the volunteer spirit that created the float demonstrates why Payson remains the best place to live in Arizona.

A little stand of dancing trees served as backdrop, thanks to the 3,000 hours of volunteer effort by a team of seamstresses who bought up just about every sheet in town to turn into the tree costumes. The trees proved the hit of the Fiesta Bowl Parade, prompting kids to throw their arms up for hugs.

The list of people who worked for two months on the float rolled on an on, underscoring the complexity of the task that drew $500,000 in free publicity.

As the weather closed in, the cheers rolled on and the trees bounced and jiggled. Everyone but the trees looked cold by the time the hour-long ceremonies wrapped: They were, after all, conifers.

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