A band, luchadores and a folkloric dancer filled the neighborhood streets near Carl Hayden High School Saturday in an effort to convince residents to vote blue in the upcoming election.
The band led the way down 33rd Avenue and Roosevelt Street, playing tunes like Pharrell’s “Happy” and Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration.”
Cars stopped in the road, recording the scene with their phones as others stepped out into their driveway to watch the festivities. Volunteers took the opportunity to hand them their voter information bags.
The demonstration was organized by the left-leaning activist group LUCHA, which stands for Living United for Change in Arizona. The organization focuses on issues related to immigration, racial justice and problems facing working families.
The goal of Saturday’s event, according to LUCHA director Alejandra Gomez, was to make voting and election information accessible to people in the community — especially people of color.
“Our community has really been paying attention and participating and we just need to make the process accessible to everyone,” said Gomez.
LUCHA encouraged voters to turn out for former Vice President Joe Biden, but also Democratic hopefuls in state elections, such as U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly, Julie Gunnigle for Maricopa County Attorney and State Rep. Raquel Terán in the election on Nov. 3.
Malik Bossett, a 19-year-old volunteer, just voted in his first presidential election two weeks early and came out to encourage others to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot for the final day of early voting on Nov. 2 and on election day Nov. 3.
“I’m here to encourage a higher voter turn-out for this election,” Bossett said, adding that the results “can take this country in any direction.”
The event was LUCHA’s first in-person event since the pandemic began.
Masks were required at the parade, which began at Falcon Park near, and a volunteer used a no-touch thermometer to check attendees temperatures. However, not everyone managed to stand six feet apart throughout.
The excitement drew many residents from their homes, while others paused their weekend yard work to watch. Some stood behind screen door or stared from their windows.
One resident named Richard Ochoa asked from his driveway what all the fuss was about, then commented that he didn’t vote by choice.
“They’re all crooks,” Ochoa said, referring to politicians.
Others were more animated. One man chanted “Biden, Biden, Biden” from his yard.
Suly Zacarias, 29, and her husband, Santos, came outside when they heard the commotion. They accepted a lawn placard from a LUCHA volunteer.
Zacarias said she already voted for Biden.
“I think it’s basically our responsibility,” said Zacarias. “If we want something to change in this country we have to go out and vote. If we don’t, there’s no reason for us to keep complaining.”
Zacarias said she doesn’t just vote for herself, but for her husband and mom who are unable to vote because of their citizenship status.
She felt LUCHA’s approach was a fun way to encourage people to vote.
“It’s something for the community — make them more active in participating in something that has a change,” she said. “Maybe next time I’ll volunteer and help.”
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