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Centennial Grand Marshal

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Past Grand Marshals




The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee has chosen Louise Thomas, founder of Angel Charity for Children, Inc. as its 2024 Rodeo Parade Grand Marshal. Louise is an everyday hero, an “Angel” who turned a personal tragedy into a cause that has positively impacted the lives of more than a million children throughout Pima County, Arizona.

The family tragedy was the loss of her 9-year-old son Michael to lymphoma in 1979. From her personal grief, Louise has brought hope for a better life for the children in our
community. Since Angel Charity was founded in 1983, the all-volunteer organization she spearheaded has touched more than 1 million children, 129 nonprofit children’s agency projects, and raised more than $31 million to improve lives of children in Pima County, Arizona.

In 1982, she was asked to join the board of directors of the Ronald McDonald House and develop a plan to pay off the property’s mortgage. Facing the challenge full throttle, she and co-founder/vice chair, the late Jane Loew Sharples, started Angel Charity for Children. With Louise’s leadership over 41 years, hundreds of Angel volunteers have annually raised between $750,000 to $1,000,000 to fund nonprofits serving children’s needs by funding brick and mortar projects to build or renovate facilities, retiring mortgages, social services, health care, media research, education, and the arts. Her inspiration to help others also launched an endowed chair in pediatric cancer research
and inspired the launch of another nonprofit organization called PANDA (People Acting Now Discover Answers) in Phoenix, Arizona. PANDA has raised over $26 million for the Steele Children’s Research Center at the University of Arizona.






Jessica Cox is a native Arizonan, born in Sierra Vista.  She is a University of Arizona graduate who holds several black belts in Taekwondo, is a licensed pilot, author, motivational speaker, and a Guinness World Record Holder.  She created a foundation to advocate for children with disabilities and has been named 2022 Woman of the Year by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 40 Under 40 Awards.  And she has accomplished all this after being born without arms.

Jessica uses her feet the way most people use their hands.  She learned to see the blessings in her life and accept herself as a whole person.  Now, Jessica flies airplanes, drives cars, is married, and otherwise lives a normal life.

Jessica’s most famous accomplishment was learning how to fly.  It took three states, four airplanes, three flight instructors, and three years to find the right aircraft.  In 2008 she earned her certification for light sport pilot, the first for an armless person, and the first person to fly an airplane with her feet.

Her first book, Disarm Your Limits, was published in 2015 and chronicles Jessica’s story to live without prosthetic arms, using her feet as other people use their hands.  She is producing a documentary Right Footed, recording Jessica’s journey toward dignity and independence.  She now works as a mentor to children with disabilities and their families, helping them overcome their situations just as her mentor once helped her.

Founded in 2017, the Rightfooted Foundation International was created by Jessica to further her advocacy for children with limb differences and other disabilities around the world.  Through the Foundation, she has produced the YouTube channel Life Without Feet which highlights the unique ways Jessica navigates life without arms.

Jessica is also a motivational speaker featured on TV shows like Ellen, CNN, National Geographic, Fox and Friends, and BBC News, and has spoken to companies such as AT&T, NASA, The Smithsonian, State Farm, and Cisco.

The Rodeo Parade Committee recognizes Jessica’s power of inspiration and mentorship and her message about how everyone, those with disabilities and those without, can find strength within themselves; and is proud to honor her as the 2023 Parade Grand Marshal.






Adia Barnes has been named the Grand Marshal of the 97th Tucson Rodeo Parade.  Barnes is a championship player, coach, sports broadcaster, teacher, mentor, and community leader. 

In six short years since her return to Tucson, Adia Barnes has captivated the local community.  As head coach of the University of Arizona Women’s Basketball program, she has instilled a passion in her team and the local fan base.

Adia played professionally for seven seasons in the Women’s NBA and overseas for an additional six years. 

In addition to her playing and coaching career, Barnes has been extremely active in the community through the Adia Barnes Foundation, which mentors under-served youth and conducts charitable events and community service projects such as school supply drives.






They have been called “The Greatest Generation.” They left family, friends, and loved ones, put their lives on hold and answered their country’s call when it needed them most to help save the world from tyranny. They fought on the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa and in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. At various times, their service was carried out under severe winter conditions, in the harshest of deserts, and in the hottest, most humid tropical climates. They are the Veterans of World War Two.

Their numbers are dwindling. Of over 16 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII, less than 390,000 are estimated to be alive. To honor these American heroes, The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee names World War II Veterans Grand Marshals of the 2020 Tucson Rodeo Parade.


War II




Guy Atchley has been a part of entertainment and news media for over 50 years.  He began his career as a disc jockey and radio news reporter at the University of Tulsa.  After graduation, he began his television career as a news reporter in Tulsa, Miami, Milwaukee, and Oklahoma City.  In 1984 he accepted a job as news anchor for KGUN TV in Tucson and spent the next 34 years informing Southern Arizona about local events and worldwide news.  

            Since graduating from the University of Tulsa in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Radio/Television Speech, Atchley received more than twenty first-place awards for excellence in reporting.  He received three consecutive Associated Press awards for Best General Reporting in the state of Oklahoma.    

            During Guy’s Tucson tenure, the AP honored KGUN 9 News with the award for Best Newscast in Southern Arizona seven times. In 1992 Atchley swept the Arizona AP awards by winning three first-place honors including: Best Serious Feature, Best Light Feature, and Best General Reporting in the State.  Atchley also was honored for his reports on living conditions in China in the documentary "China: 1987."  In October of 1993, Guy traveled to the Middle East for a documentary on Israel's quest for peace. That documentary, plus Guy’s news reports and speeches to expose intolerance and bigotry, earned him the 1994 Human Relations Award presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council.

            Besides reporting from several foreign countries, Guy also traveled the United States. He has covered space shuttle launches in Florida, racial tension in the South, and immigration policies at the U.S./Mexico border. On Veterans Day of 1994, Guy reported from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

            For more than two decades, Guy spent each Labor Day as Tucson host for the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. In 1991 he emceed the Tucson Welcome Home Celebration for Gulf War veterans at Arizona Stadium.

            You may have seen Guy’s cameos in several TV movies: "Jericho Fever," the remake of "Vanishing Point,” and the independent films "Runnin' at Midnite” and “Dark Was the Night.”  Just in case you're wondering, Atchley played the role of a news reporter in each film.

              Guy Atchley is now retired after 34 years in Tucson at KGUN TV.  However, he's still having fun in broadcasting, playing oldies at KGVY Radio in Green Valley.  He also is an accomplished amateur photographer and travels Arizona to document the beauty of the Grand Canyon State. In fact, Guy has received press credentials for the Rodeo Parade for the last few years and shares photos on his Facebook page.






In 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth and Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single basketball game. That same year 41 visionary Tucson businessmen and professionals pledged to inspire local youngsters to achieve their own greatness through participation in sports.  The as-yet-to-be-named civic group was patterned after the successful Phoenix Thunderbirds, which sponsored the Phoenix Open golf tournament. Tucson’s counterpart tournament was in financial trouble, so “saving the Tucson Open was part of the discussion from the very beginning,” said Fred Boice, one of the group’s Charter members and later, its first Tucson Open tournament chairman. Corralled by developer, philanthropist, and sports enthusiast Roy Drachman, the men hammered out the details in a series of informal meetings.

The Tucson Conquistadores’ first official meeting was in October, 1962, at the El Conquistador Hotel on Broadway. Drachman was elected president and members also planned their first fundraiser, a Sports Award Banquet slated for the week of the Tucson Open.

Over the course of 55 years the Conquistadores have hosted 32 Sports Award Banquets, five professional tennis tournaments, five LPGA golf tournaments and 51 PGA tour golf events. Proceeds have netted over $33 million for youth athletic and charity programs.  These organizations include Boys and Girls Clubs, Special Olympics, The Salvation Army, and First Tee of Tucson, which teaches kids life skills through golf.  






Jeannette Maré was born in South Africa and immigrated to the United States when she was just a toddler. Her family moved to Tucson 40 years ago when her dad, a research veterinarian, accepted a faculty position at the University of Arizona. She became involved with 4-H, focusing on goats, market lambs, and breeding ewes. After graduating from Amphi High School, Jeannette studied linguistics and American Sign Language at the University of Arizona.

She became immersed in Deaf Culture and American Sign Language at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, a university for deaf students. Studying and living there was a life-changing experience where Jeannette acquired a deep appreciation for the diversity of human experience. After graduating with a Master’s degree in linguistics, Jeannette returned to Tucson and worked as a sign language interpreter and as faculty at the U of A teaching linguistics and interpreting.

Life as she knew it ended in March, 2002 when her nearly 3-year-old son, Ben, died suddenly and unexpectedly. From this tragedy she created a movement that is familiar to all of Arizona and many other areas of the country: Ben’s Bells.

Ben’s Bells was born out of the need to honor the kindness that was offered to Jeannette and her family after Ben’s death. On the first anniversary of Ben’s death, she and her family and friends hung out 400 Ben’s Bells, each with a written message to simply take it home and pass on the kindness. The ripple effect that followed was incredible.

For over a decade, Ben’s Bells has been infusing the practice of intentional kindness throughout our community. Tens of thousands of citizens are engaged with Ben’s Bells educational programming offered through their studios, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. Ben’s Bells has become a beloved part of our southern Arizona culture and has spread nationally with studios in Phoenix and Newtown, CT, and the Kind Campus Program is used in hundreds of schools across the country.

Jeannette Maré is forever grateful to the Tucson community for caring for her and her family during the worst time of their lives. She is passionate about engaging with community and giving back in any way she can, knowing that we’re all in this together.






The Grand Marshal for the 2016 Tucson Rodeo Parade, Chandler Warden, is a transplanted Californian who learned a love for Southern Arizona attending summer camps at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch. He moved to the Tucson area full time in 1993 and has since dedicated his time to supporting charitable organizations and causes in the area.

Over the years, Chandler has hosted a drive time radio show, worked in the cruise industry and for the Roaring Camp Railroad Tour Company. He worked for the California Department of Agriculture, and was Director of Tour Operations at Biosphere 2.
From his ranch in Marana Chandler oversees the charitable work of his family’s philanthropic organization, the Bert W. Martin Foundation. The Foundation has touched many worthwhile organizations. He worked with Arnold Palmer to help build the nation’s first children-only emergency and trauma center at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, Florida. His support of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has resulted in the addition of the Warden Oasis Theater, the Warden Aquarium and the continuation of the Desert Ark program. Warden serves on the Board of Directors for the Desert Museum.

Chandler is a melanoma survivor and advocates for cancer research. He helped establish the Skin Cancer Institute at the Arizona Cancer Center, and continues to sit on the Board of Directors. Because of his work with the Skin Cancer Institute, you will now find free sunscreen stations at the Desert Museum, Reid Park Zoo, the Pima Air and Space Museum and the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Chandler’s philanthropy for other Southern Arizona organizations include Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Tucson, El Rio Community Healthcare, The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, Marana Community Food Bank, Therapeutic Riding of Tucson, KXCI Community Radio, U of A Student Veterans Affairs Program, and preservation of the Fox Theater, the Historic Rillito Race Track, and the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum. He was named Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year in 2013 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals

Chandler feels that giving back to the community to create a better place to live and to protect and preserve our cultural treasures is a life’s necessity. His motto is “Protecting the vision, and honoring the privilege.”






Longtime Tucsonan and former University of Arizona baseball coach Jerry Kindall has been chosen Grand Marshal of the 2015 Tucson Rodeo Parade. Kindall is a former player, coach, teacher, author, and baseball broadcaster.

He played basketball and baseball at the University of Minnesota. In 1956 Kindall was an All-American member of the Gophers baseball team that won the College World Series Championship, ironically defeating Arizona, a team he would later lead to three NCAA championships. He spent eight years as an infielder in the Major Leagues with the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins. He coached as an assistant at Minnesota until 1972 when he became head coach at Arizona. He led the Wildcats to the College World Series five times and to National Championships in 1976, 1980, and 1986 and was named National Coach of the Year those same years. He remains Arizona’s all-time winningest coach.

Coach Kindall has been inducted into the University of Minnesota, University of Arizona, and the College Baseball Coaches’ Halls of Fame.

Since his retirement, Kindall has kept involved with the game he loves as a Senior Advisor with USA Baseball, giving instructional clinics and coaching internationally, and broadcasting baseball for ESPN and Fox Sports. He has authored one book and four videos on baseball coaching and instruction, and served as editor of The Science of Baseball and The Baseball Coaching Bible.

The Jerry Kindall Character in Coaching Award is presented annually by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to the college or high school baseball coach that best exemplifies the Christian principles of character, integrity, excellence, teamwork and service on and off the baseball field.

He remains involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Ministry of Young Life, and is an elder at Catalina Foothills Presbyterian Church.






Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s the mantra of the Grand Marshal for the 2014 Tucson Rodeo Parade, Dan Marries. That’s exactly how Dan feels about working as the evening news anchor at KOLD News 13 where he’s been keeping Tucsonans informed since 1999.

Dan got his start in television news in 1995 while he was still a junior at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. His internship lead to his first job in journalism as the morning anchor and noon weather man. Further news jobs took him to Mankato, MN, Yuma, AZ and finally Tucson. It was also during college he spent four summers as a wildland firefighter for the Bureau of Land Management.

Dan is a self-proclaimed “wanna-be” cowboy and it’s apparent every year during the Tucson Rodeo Parade and Rodeo. That comes from his time in Pawnee, Oklahoma where he spent the latter years of his childhood and high school. Helping his uncle with cattle instilled in him the importance of putting in a hard day’s work. Dan’s grandmother had a heavy influence on his upbringing and she taught him the importance of community service. In high school, as the Master Councilor of the DeMolay chapter and as president of the student council, Dan would help the elderly with mowing their lawns, painting the trim on houses, serving breakfast and lunch at the neighborhood center, and carrying out their groceries as a bag boy at a family owned store.

That spirit of giving back is just as important today as it was back then. Dan is the charter president of the Casas Adobes Optimist Club. For the past four years that club has adopted upwards of thirty less-fortunate families during Christmas, making sure the kids had presents under the tree and food on the table.

Dan is also a founding trustee board member of the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation assisting our local fire community with funding, tools, technology, advanced training, equipment, survivor’s help, and education campaigns to support these brave men and women. He’s also the official “reader” of a book called “Born to Wear Blue” published by the Fire Foundation.

Every year he volunteers during Love of Reading Week, spending time with children letting them know the importance of education. He’s also a frequent visitor to the Southern Arizona VA Medical Center, visiting with veterans to thank them for their service. For the past 8 years he’s served as the official announcer for the Tucson Veteran’s Day Parade and the Tucson Rodeo Parade telecast. His schedule is kept busy emceeing and attending hundreds of fundraisers for a variety of local charities including “BAG IT” that provides vital information for cancer patients, the Tucson Utility Contractors Association, United Way, Boys & Girls Club, the Marana School Foundation, and the Tucson Police Officers Foundation, to name just a few.

Dan has been recognized with numerous awards as a journalist including two Emmys, one which came from a half hour documentary he shot, wrote, and produced on one of his three trips to Vietnam with local veterans. He won a Communicator’s Award for a rodeo story on legendary Ty Murray, and Ty’s efforts to give retired bucking horses a place to live. He’s also been recognized several times by the Arizona Associated Press.






Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have been chosen as the Grand Marshals for the 88th Tucson Rodeo Parade. They are honored for their community service to Southern Arizona and the nation.

“Gabby,” as she’s affectionately known, is a native Tucsonan, graduating from University High School before graduating from Scripps College in California and earning a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University. She worked as an associate for regional economic development at Price Waterhouse in New York before becoming president and CEO of the family business, El Campo Tire Warehouses, a local auto service business.

Her political career began as with an election to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2000. In 2002 she became the youngest woman to be elected to the Arizona State Senate. In 2003 she was named the Arizona Family Literacy’s Outstanding Legislator, and in 2004 was named Legislator of the Year by the Mental Health Association of Arizona.

She was re-elected Senator in 2004, but resigned that position in 2005 to begin her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2006 she became the third woman in Arizona history to be elected to the U.S. congress representing U.S. District 8, and was re-elected in 2008 and 2010. She was an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that included a secure border, increasing Border Patrol Agents, and a guest worker program. She was also a staunch supporter of the military and increasing the minimum wage. In February 2010, Congresswoman Giffords honored the Tucson Rodeo Parade with an official commendation on the Congressional Record for its 85 years of service to the Tucson and Arizona community.

In January 2011 she was wounded in an assassination attempt, and resigned from Congress in January 2012 to focus on her recovery.

Mark Kelly is a retired U.S. astronaut and former Navy Captain and naval aviator who flew combat missions in the Gulf War. Kelly was selected to become a NASA Space Shuttle pilot in 1996 and piloted the shuttle in 2001 and 2006, and commanded shuttle missions in 2008 and 2001, the latter being his final mission and the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. During this mission, he received a call and papal blessing from Pope Benedict XVI; the first such call from a pope to astronauts during a mission.

In 2007 he and Gabby were married. After the Tucson shooting, they were thrust into the media spotlight and he has become a spokesman on what constitutes acceptable civil discourse. They have penned a memoir about their individual and shared experiences after the shooting titled Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope. They have recently launched an initiative called Americans for Responsible Solutions, calling for responsible changes in laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence.


Giffords &
Mark Kelly




The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee typically honors individuals as its Grand Marshal. This year the Parade Committee is honoring a Tucson institution. The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus will lead the 2012 Tucson Rodeo Parade. The Boys Chorus exemplifies the tradition, culture, and southwest heritage that are epitomized in the Rodeo Parade. They have always included western songs such as “Ghost Riders in the Sky” “Cool Water” and “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” in their repertoire. The Boys Chorus was founded in 1939 by Eduardo Caso, a nationally known tenor who moved to Tucson to recuperate from tuberculosis. Caso took the boys on tours, introducing them to national audiences at the 1950 Chicago World’s Fair and on television programs such as the Bell Telephone Hour, the Ed Sullivan Show, and the Mike Douglas Show. They became international stars on tours of Europe in 1955, and Australia in 1960. In 1963 they sang at the White House at the annual Christmas treelighting ceremony. They are truly Tucson’s “Ambassadors in Blue Jeans.” The Chorus has had only four Directors in its 72 year history. Caso continued as director until his sudden death in 1965. Jeffrey Haskell, a University of Arizona doctoral student stepped in and served as Director for the next 10 years. In 1975 Dr. John Davis, a former soprano for the Boys Chorus, was named Director and continued the Chorus’ tradition of touring and community representation. The Chorus’ current Director, Dr. Julian Ackerley took charge in 1980 and took the boys to tour the Soviet Union, Germany, Austria and Poland to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1990. They continue to tour nationally and internationally to locales such as Mexico, New Zealand, China, Southeast Asia, Europe, and South Africa. They have represented the United States at international choral gatherings in South Korea, Hong Kong, and the Czech Republic and have performed at several American Choral Director’s Association Conferences, AmericaFests singing festivals, the World Symposium on Choral Music, the International Children’s Choir Festival, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In 1996 the Boys Chorus received the Governor’s Arts Award for Arts in Education acknowledging their artistic excellence as well as their aggressive community outreach program. The boys are also recording stars, recording their first album in 1959. They have recorded numerous albums featuring American popular music, Western ballads, patriotic favorites, Christmas and Hanukkah standards, and religious and spiritual classics. The Boys Chorus has passed along the principles of discipline, responsibility, commitment, and hard work to thousands of young men. 






The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee is proud to announce Joel D. Valdez as Grand Marshal of the 2011 Tucson Rodeo Parade.

At the tender age of nine, Joel was already delivering newspapers and was a contributing member of the community. As he grew older, Joel built up his paper routes until he converted them into an independent carrier service.  Joel was born in a house directly across from St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson.  His parents were from Sonora, Mexico and although neither graduated from high school, education was always a priority. After receiving a Bachelors of Science from the University of Arizona, where he was a member of the Wildcat baseball team under “Pop” McKale,  Joel spent the next eight years at the Pima County Juvenile Court as a probation officer, eventually being named the Superintendent of Detention Services.

In 1966 the City of Tucson recruited Valdez to serve as Administrative Assistant to the Library Director. It was during his years with the library that his expertise in budget planning and monitoring was formed.  One of his major contributions while at the library was the opening of a bilingual branch in Tucson's south side, a concept in library service that became a model for cities throughout the southwest.  In 1970 Valdez advanced into the City Manager's office.  Within a year he was promoted to the position of Assistant City Manager and assumed a supervisory role over the departments of Library, Finance, Parks/Recreation, Community Center, and Federal Programs.


In 1974 Joel became City Manager and for the next 16 years he went on to become one of the premier managers in the country, by effectively administering a budget of $500 million and work force of over 4,000 employees.  Valdez supervised the implementation of capital improvements totaling several hundred million dollars in the areas of housing, streets, water/sewer, public safety, buildings, libraries, parks, and public/private ventures.

In July 1990 Joel Valdez launched a new career at the University of Arizona as Vice President for Business Affairs.  Serving under four university presidents, Valdez has overseen over $1 billion worth of construction projects that have changed the face of the campus including the Student Union Memorial Center, the Pacheco Integrated Learning Center, the Medical Research Building, the Keating Bio-5 Building and eight student residence halls.  His retirement in 2010 did not mean his service has ended.  He is now a special advisor to university president Robert Shelton through the UA Foundation.

Joel’s other accomplishments include appointment to the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Informational Sciences by President Bill Clinton, president of the Arizona City Management Association, and board membership for the United Way, Hellenic Cultural Foundation, Tucson-Pima Library, and Diocese of Tucson Finance Council.  Joel was recently given the 2011 Founder’s Award by the Tucson Chamber of Commerce.

His years of public service, community ties, and many accomplishments make Joel a perfect fit for selection as Grand Marshal of the Tucson Rodeo Parade.


Joel D.




The Tucson Rodeo Parade is honored to present,
James “Big Jim” Griffith as its 2010 Grand Marshal.
Teacher, founder, anthropologist, author, story teller, award-winning musician, and folklorist all describe the 2010 Tucson Rodeo Parade Grand Marshal, James “Big Jim” Griffith.
For over four decades Big Jim has studied folkways and religious expression throughout the United States-Mexico border region. Griffith’s work as an academic and public folklorist has been extraordinary and his legacy includes founding the Southwest Folklore Center at the University of Arizona and the annual Tucson Meet Yourself Folk Arts Festival.

Jim Griffith was born in Santa Barbara, California, and came to Tucson in 1955 to attend the University of Arizona. He has considered himself a permanent Tucson resident since 1963. He loves Southern Arizona and has said, “I guess I’ll stay in Tucson as long as it gets worse slower than other places.”
He received all three of his degrees from the University of Arizona, the Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and art history in 1973. From 1979 until his retirement in 1998 he ran the University’s Southwest Folklore Center. He is currently a Research Associate at the Center.

With his wife, Loma, he started Tucson Meet Yourself in 1974. The celebration of Tucson’s ethnic and cultural diversity now draws over 100,000 participants annually.

Although he retired as director of the festival in 1995, he is once again heavily involved in this project. Starting in 1985, he wrote and hosted “Southern Arizona Traditions,” a weekly 3-minute spot on KUAT-TV’s Arizona Illustrated program. For 2 ½ years in the late 1980s he wrote a monthly column on “Local Custom” for the now-defunct City Magazine. He was curator for eleven exhibitions of regional traditional arts, the most recent being “La Cadena Que No Se Corta/The Unbroken Chain: The Traditional Arts of Tucson’s Mexican American Community,” at the University of Arizona Museum of Art in the winter of 1996-7.

Griffith has written seven books on Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico folk arts, traditions and religious art. He has been honored by several literary societies and includes such awards as the 2005 Henry Glassie Award and the 2009 Pima County Library Lifetime Achievement Award. He is currently researching for a book on the religious art of Sonora, and finishing a guide to regional folklore.

Big Jim is also an accomplished and award-winning banjo player. He recorded Dixie Cowboy, a CD collection of bluegrass and folk tunes, and also collected the songs and wrote the liner notes for the CD Heroes and Horses: Corridos of the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands.

Jim Griffith’s professional commitment has always been to try to understand the cultures of this part of the border, and to pass along that understanding, as respectfully and accurately as possible, to the general public. His commitment to the history and culture of the Southwest make Big Jim a natural selection as Grand Marshal.


Big Jim




Mayor Robert E. Walkup was elected to his third term as Mayor of Tucson in 2007.

During his tenure there have been numerous fundamental changes in the way the Tucson region operates.

Under Mayor Walkup’s leadership, Tucson has begun utilizing its share of Colorado River water in 2001 to supplement its potable water supply and reduce its dependence on groundwater.

Mayor Walkup was instrumental in forming our Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and gaining voter-approval for its $2.1 billion multi-modal transportation plan.

He helped form the Meth-Free Alliance, the Men’s Anti-Violence Partnership, and he led the City Council effort to increase public safety support over a ten-year period with 560 more police officers and 336 more firefighters and paramedics.

Working together with Pima County, Mayor Walkup has engineered consolidations of economic development agencies into one regional entity, the Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc. (TREO), and consolidation of our regional library system funding. His efforts in economic development have contributed to a net increase of 50,000 jobs and $10,000 per year in average worker earnings during his tenure.

Mayor Walkup was the first Arizona Mayor to sign the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. His local environmental efforts that have resulted in doubling Tucson’s recycling rate, instituting impact fees to make new growth pay its fair share and requiring LEED certification on all new city buildings.

Believing that mayors can play a key role in reducing health care costs, Mayor Walkup initiated the Healthy Tucson Initiative locally and the Global Alliance for Community Wellness internationally. The Global Alliance commits mayors and city governments to partner with local health care leaders to demonstrate healthy lifestyles and support prevention programs in order to improve the city’s quality of life.

Mayor Walkup has a degree in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University. He served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and worked for over 37 years in the aerospace industry as an Industrial Engineer and Executive for Rockwell International, Fairchild Republic and Hughes Aircraft. He is Vice President of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns and is a member of the League’s Executive Committee. He also serves as Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee for the US Conference of Mayors’ Transportation Committee.

Mayor Walkup and his wife, Beth Walkup, have five children and six grandchildren. He enjoys astronomy, classical history and is an avid cyclist.


Robert E. Walkup

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