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Burns & Gambo

Updated Dec 27, 2013 - 3:08 pm

Judges cast vote for Fiesta Bowl Parade winning float

The Grand Canyon University float featuring basketball head coach Dan Majerle is shown. (KTAR photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- We have a winner, but we don't know which one it is yet.

Judging was held Friday morning on which float in Saturday's Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade is the best.

Several Fiesta Bowl officials as well as local children were able to vote for their favorite float, and they will get to lead it down the parade route.

Parade Chairman Jay Spector said each of the floats offers something special.

"The city of Holbrook float displays Petrified Forest and some of the red rocks up there. The Fort McDowell float highlights some of the animals that are native to their tribal lands. Then we have a life-sized cutout of 'Thunder' Dan Majerle on the Grand Canyon University float," Spector said.

Majerle is a former Phoenix Suns star who is now GCU's head basketball coach.

Spector said all of the other floats are noteworthy.

"The Dillard's Queen and Court float is a fantasy-type theme," said Spector. "The Fiesta Bowl float pits the UCF (University of Central Florida) Knights and the Baylor Bears against each other on the float, and the East Valley Institute of Technology float displays a lot of their different classroom opportunities out there."

Fiesta Bowl Committee member Terry Ricketts thought aloud about which float would have the greatest crowd appeal.

"Is it going to be Dan Majerle? Is it going to be one of the characters on the floats?," Ricketts asked.

Another judge said the decision process was very difficult.

"When you look at a float, you can tell how much effort went into that and how much dedication that those individuals and those groups put into it," said Fiesta Bowl Ambassador Amy Ashbaugh. "I was just blown away by all of them."

Neither Ricketts nor Ashbaugh would say which float they voted as the best, and they do not know how the other judges voted.

Still, they said they have a little bet between each other that the one they picked will win the competition.

"If mine wins, she gives me a bag of Tostitos chips," joked Ricketts.

"If mine wins, he gives me the salsa," Ashbaugh replied.

The winning float will be announced Saturday at the Fiesta Bowl Breakfast, and it will receive a plaque and ribbon to display during the parade.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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