Founder's Day

Founders' Day Photos and Parade Video

This weekend’s Marana Founders’ Day was a huge success. Great crowds turned out for the parade and all the festivities at the Marana Municipal Complex. Relive the event with full video coverage of the parade and a great photo gallery.

Photos by JD Fitzgerald

Mayor's Message: Enjoy Founders' Day

Marana Mayor Ed Honea provided a Mayor’s Message to the Marana News regarding Founders’ Day.

Marana Founders’ Day logo.

Marana Founders’ Day logo.

This Saturday is the return of Marana Founders’ Day, one of my favorite events in the town. Founders’ Day is a great way to remember Marana’s humble beginnings, while also celebrating where we are going as a community. 

I take great pride in our community, and love showing it off during our signature events. At Founders’ Day, we remember how the town’s founders came together over 40 years ago to protect the water rights of local farmers. Many of those families, including my own, still call Marana home. 

Marana’s history dates back further than its incorporation in the 1970s. Western people have settled here since the late 1800s, and in the 1930s the residents in the area came together to form the Cortaro-Marana Irrigation District in an effort to protect water resources and purchase electrical power at a low rate.

Once again, Founders’ Day will be located at the Marana Municipal Complex in the heart of Downtown Marana. The first Marana Town Hall was in a small strip mall on the corner of Sanders and Marana Road. Today, we have a beautiful, modern complex that has become even more striking with the addition of our brand-new police facility.

The highlight of Founders’ Day is the parade. To me, the parade sums up how diverse and interesting Marana is. Horseback riders travel the same parade route as modern police vehicles. We will have marching bands, kids on bicycles and floats. We will also have vintage tractors that harken back to Marana’s farming roots travelling alongside giant concrete mixers that remind us that we live in one of the fastest growing communities in the state. 

The floats represent so many great organizations that make Marana a great town. All of the schools from Marana Unified School District as well as the Open Doors School are represented, as is MHC Healthcare, Northwest Fire and so many of our great churches. The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts will be in the parade, as will organizations like 4-H, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Marana-Foothills Optimists Club and the Shriners. Truly a cross section of Marana.

The Anway Family will serve as the Grand Marshalls of the Parade. They represent the families that have called Marana home for generations. The Anway family first arrived in Marana over 100 years ago. They were among the first families to plant cotton, and were the first to sink a well in Avra Valley and bring dairy cows to the area. 

It is exciting to welcome so many generations of the family to the festivities, and I believe they are the perfect representatives for what Founders’ Day is all about. They are truly the history of the Town, as well as the future of this community. 

This year we are bringing the festivities to the courtyard of the Municipal Complex. Those watching the parade near MHC, Ora Mae Harn Park or the roundabout will have just a short stroll to get to all of the great activities.

Town staff will be on hand getting feedback on the next iteration of the Marana General Plan, and our Community and Neighborhood Services Department will be answering questions and helping to license and adopt dogs. A number of great local non-profits and businesses will also be on-site.  

A new addition to Founders’ Day is the Marana Art Expo. This is the second Art Expo hosted by Marana Parks and Recreation. This time, local middle and high school artists will be featured. These great works of art will be hosted in the main lobby of the Municipal Complex.

At the town we strive to provide free family activities, and Founders’ Day will be no different. This year, we will have a variety of inflatable attractions, a kids’ craft area and a small recreational train. 

I like to think there is a lot of great talent in the Town of Marana, and that talent will be showcased at Founders’ Day. We have four diverse acts performing, beginning with Ballet Folklorico Xochitl starting at 11:30 a.m., and followed by the Marana High School Choir, the Lion Dance Chinese Cultural Dancers and classic rock ban Sonora Borealis. 

Founders’ Day is about the history of the town, and there will be a number of historical and cultural displays and booths. This is a great way to learn more about Marana’s rich history.

I love Founders’ Day, and hope you will join me on Saturday to take in the festivities. See you there. 

Ed Honea is the Mayor of Marana.

Marana News: Marana prepares for Founders’ Day

A Shriner gives a high five during the Marana Founders’ Day Parade.

A Shriner gives a high five during the Marana Founders’ Day Parade.

The Marana News has a great preview of Founders' Day, which will take place on Saturday, March 30.

More than any other event in town, the Marana Founders’ Day celebrates local people and culture. And this year’s Founders’ Day celebration brings the cultural exploration to another level, by examining the past, present and future of the community. 

“We’re bringing in all the cultural groups that can point back to the people currently in Marana, and those who inhabited the area before us,” said Monique Hagberg, Town of Marana Special Events Coordinator. 

While every Founders’ Day celebration focuses on the history of Marana, the plan is for this year’s to look both forward and back; the festival features booths and exhibits displaying Marana’s history, including Native American history, a presentation from the Chinese Cultural Center, a performance by Ballet Folklorico Xochitl and more.

Members of the Anway family, celebrating 100 years since arriving in the Marana area, will serve as marshals for the Founders’ Day parade. 

“Founders’ Day, by its very terminology, is for anyone who helped develop the community,” said Marana Mayor Ed Honea, whose own family dates back multiple generations in the region. “And this year we’ll honor the Anway Family as founders of the community.” 

Read more about the parade, activities, vendors and more.

Marana Founders' Day Parade Awards

The centerpiece of Marana Founders’ Day is the annual parade. This year’s parade made its way down a new route that included a trip down Main Street past MHC Healthcare and the Marana Municipal Complex.

The parade had over 90 entries including a marching band, vintage and new corvettes, horseback riders, and floats. This year’s theme was “Float Through Time” and the parade judges voted on awards in three categories.


Best Spirit: Marana Unified School District

MUSD came out in force, with students, teachers, administrators, and staff from all of their schools. Their entry “Floating Toward the Future” included foil covered letters, cardboard rocket ships, signs for every school, and even two people clad in green body suits. The MUSD representatives walked and rode, giving them one of the biggest entries in the parade.



Best Use of Theme: Marana Dental Care

Marana Dental Care earned high marks for their float which had a farm motif. Their float had a great attention to detail including kids in costume, a cardboard tractor and barn, hay, and a bandana pattern trim.


Judges’ Pick: Northwest Outriders

The Northwest Outriders 4H club had one of the longest floats with not one, but two flat beds. One contained a some of the animals that they raise, including goats and calves. The second had members of all ages sitting on hay bales and waving to the crowd.


Founders' Day Blog: Favorite Parade Moments

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One  major thing that sets Founders’ Day apart from the other Marana signature events is the parade. This annual spectacle attracts lots of Marana residents to line the sidewalks and watch all the great vehicles, floats, and people glide by.

The parade has had a number of great features. There have been monster trucks, farm machinery, and even a marriage proposal. Here is a list of some of our favorite moments at the Marana Founders’ Day parade.

Horses – Everyone loves horses (unless you have Equinophobia) and the Marana Founder’s Day Parade has plenty of horses. Horses are central to Marana’s farming and ranching legacy, and there are plenty of these majestic animals on display.


Marching Bands – Few things are more integral to a parade than marching bands. Both Marana and Mountain View High Schools have participated in the past and both do a fantastic job providing the soundtrack to the parade. With their colorful costumes and perfect formations, these are some musicians to be proud of.


Floats – The Marana Founders’ Day parade features some great people and organizations. Nearly every school is represented with students smiling, waving, and throwing candy. You are apt to get a teacher wearing a silly costume, and even a mascot or ten. Other floats feature non-profits, churches, and the local businesses that make up the backbone of the Marana community.


Shriner Cars –What could be more thrilling than people wearing fez hats and driving mini-go carts in tight formation before breaking off to do tricks?


Classic Tractors – Like the horses above, tractors are a key part of Marana’s heritage. The Marana Founders’ Day parade has a wide variety of tractors, most of them classic tractors. Some are quite recognizable as the recent precursors to today’s farming machinery. Most are painted the way they looked when they first hit the farm, while others have been painted a variety of bright colors, including a few all-pink tractors.


Police and Fire – The Marana Police Department and various local fire departments get to display their vehicles during the parade. Who is not taken back to childhood when they see a shiny, red fire engine? The MPD motor patrol are also a highlight as they ride together on their matte black motorcycles, showing off how well they handle the impressive machines.


Cool Cars – Whether you like classic cars, new sports cars, or off-road vehicles, the parade has plenty of  interesting vehicles. These cars are the perfect way to let those being honored in the parade to wave to the crowd, and even drop some goodies to the kids. From Town officials to beauty queens to worthwhile organizations, these slick rides have a little bit of everything.


Crowds/Candy – Happy families coming out to celebrate Founder’s Day is what it is all about. Of course, for the kids it is also about the candy being thrown by man in the parade. Children scramble to collect all the candy and goodies tossed out from the floats and vehicles. From some of Marana’s oldest residents, to tiny little babies who have just begun to make Marana their home, every type of person imaginable comes out to the parade.


Cement Trucks – What’s better than big, rumbly cement trucks? How about a bright pink, big, rumbly cement truck?

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Founder's Day Blog: From the Mouths of Babes

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Marana’s Founders’ Day has always been a family affair with a lot of activities geared toward kids. This year’s edition is no different, so who better to give a review of the event than a 7-year old? 7-year old Tyler Allis is a veteran of four Founders Days, and has provided a preview of next months event.

Tyler Allis - Parades are great, but I especially like parades where they throw candy! They throw a lot of candy at the Marana Founders’ Day parade. All you have to do is wave to the floats, and they throw you candy. 

Candy was not the only cool part of the parade- there is plenty to see. There are a lot of really neat vehicles you don’t get to see on most days. There will be kids on BMX bicycles and unicycles. These guys, called Shriners, drive around in little mini cars. They do tricks and then give high fives to all the kids. It is really cool.


There are always a bunch of people on horses and floats. There will be fire trucks and police motor cycles, and maybe even a monster truck. You get to see really cool old-time tractors! my sister really likes the all pink one, and some other old time cars and trucks. There will also be marching bands, cheerleaders, and people walking and waving.

The rest of Founders Day will be in downtown Marana, and there is so much stuff to do. I love food trucks. There will be lots of food trucks. Some have snacks, some have “real” food, and others have dessert. I will try to have a little bit of everything.


There will be a lot of really fun jumping castles and other inflatables. These are a lot of fun, and my dad is happy because they are free. A lot of the stuff at Founders Day is free.

There will be lots to see on the stage like music and dancers, and fun games like hula hoops, sack races, and beanbag toss. They do a lot of beanbag toss in Marana because it is a lot of fun. 

They also had this big area where all of these people gave me stuff. My dad called them vendors and he said they were all from Marana. Some of these people sell you stuff, and a lot just give you stuff! You can learn about businesses, churches, and even adopt a puppy. Last year I got a lot of pens, a ball, and some stuff to read. I can’t wait to see what else they have this year.

Marana Founders' Day in Downtown Marana is on Saturday, March 10 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.


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