Marana’s interns share their summer experiences.
It was a hot day, but you already knew that. The 4th of July is always hot in the Southwest. We are not fair-weather patriots though. Braving the heat, we mark our independence just like any other American town.
I showed up at Crossroads at Silverbell Park a little before noon last Friday, ready to prove my hard-working American spirit by volunteering my time for the Town’s Star-Spangled Spectacular. Then I stepped out of my air-conditioned vehicle and suddenly felt a little less gung-ho about the whole thing. Native Sonorans can deal with the dry heat, but that whole humidity thing is an unwelcome visitor in these parts.
Not to be deterred, I donned my wide-brimmed hat, applied sunscreen and headed out to do my duty. My assignment was to man the vendor check-in booth. This is where all the food trucks and shaved-ice sellers come in to be told where they’re going to park their set-up. I was given a map of the park with demarcated spaces for each vendor, and instructed to lead the vendors to their assigned spot. There’s a big reason for that extra effort.
It may seem like a simple process, but things can get hairy pretty quickly in these types of events, even hours before the crowds start showing up. In this case, there was only one way in and one way out for vendors, which meant that we couldn’t simply let folks waltz in at their pleasure to set up their trucks and tents. The set-up times had been carefully planned to avoid a logjam inside the park.
The task was actually heavier than one person could handle, so luckily I had Matt Meyer from the Town’s Parks and Recreation Department running the operation with me. There was a lot of running back and forth between the check-in booth and the vendor areas. One of my biggest jobs turned out to be customer service. Despite our best efforts, the vendor pathway through the park got clogged with cars when people were still setting up their areas. While Matt would be out there trying to get it cleared, I would be back at the vendor booth trying to explain why the hot dog truck had to wait to get in, even though it was on time. Having a cooler full of ice-cold water helped smooth over sour feelings.
Probably the most interesting aspect of my day came when citizens would pull up to the booth and ask about the event. Some had specific questions, mostly wanting to know where the fireworks were being shot. But there were several who wanted to know more about the origins of the event itself. When I would tell them that it was planned, organized and executed by the Town itself, the impression it made was clear: they were proud of where they lived.
Anthony Hunter is a Masters of Public Administration candidate at the University of Arizona.