Joe and Amelia Gonzales

Joe and Amelia Gonzales will serve as the 2021 grand marshals in the Billy Moore Days Parade on Oct. 16

Billy Moore Days is back in time to celebrate Avondale’s 75th anniversary as a city.

The street-style celebration on Western Avenue in Old Town Avondale will feature food and music Friday, Oct. 15, and Saturday, Oct. 16. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the festival has been reduced from four to two days and the carnival has been replaced by a free kids zone with rides and activities.

Billy Moore Days is named for the pioneer who established a stagecoach stop, general store and saloon in “Coldwater,” which later became known as Avondale.

“It has always been about a feeling connected to your town, to your city, to your neighbors, and I think that’s what Billy Moore Days still strives to be today,” said Pier Simeri, Avondale’s marketing and public relations director.

“It certainly brings out a lot of folks from the historic part of Avondale, but we’ve also brought in a lot of new residents to come and enjoy the parade this year.”

The Billy Moore Days Parade is 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, and will feature dozens of colorful entries, decorated floats, marching bands, horse drawn wagons, dance groups, local celebrities, community organizations, antique cars, school clubs and scouts.

“Our annual historical parade is something that everybody really looks forward to. We're up to about 25 entries,” Simeri said.

“Everybody loves a parade. And I think more and more those hometown parades are starting to go away. When you have a hometown parade, it really speaks to the character of the community, it tells a story about your community and it brings people together, which is why I think Billy Moore Days is so beloved.”

Jamie Rogers, the city’s recreation coordinator, said the entertainment and the carnival are popular.

The lineup of music performances includes Studio UnoandBallet Folklorico Esperanza, Back Nine Bandits, Los Primos and Gustavo Angeles, Hector Reynoso, Santa Pachita and Tati Quintero.

Rogers said Billy Moore Days features something for everyone.

“We really do make this a very family-friendly event where they’re together, they’re spending time together, working together on things. It really does cater to everybody,” she said.

Billy Moore Days dates back to 1954. A longtime tradition is naming the grand marshals. This year, they are pioneer residents Joe Frank and Amelia Gonzales.

They were both born in 1939 to migrant parents: Joe was arrived in a barn off 103rd and McDowell behind the current-day Harkins Theatre, and Amelia in El Paso.

“They are four generations strong, starting with them, their kids, their grandkids and their great grandkids, all of them still living in Avondale, most of them living in Old Town Avondale, and some have branched off into the newer developments within Avondale,” Rogers said.

“All of their generations never miss a parade. They look forward to this parade every year and they line the streets and put everybody in the back of the truck and watch the parade. They're so excited that now their family gets to watch them in the parade. This is really a generational thing, and our community members love it.”

Joe was in the second graduating class at Agua Fria High School, while his sweetheart was across the river at Tolleson High School. They married in 1959 and raised 10 children in Old Town Avondale.

“These individuals represent the spirit of Avondale and are being recognized for what they bring to the community,” Rogers said.

Joe and Amelia will be honored at the front of the parade on Oct. 16.  

Rogers advised that a few road closures in Old Town Avondale will be in place to accommodate the festivities. Western Avenue will be closed from Third to Seventh streets beginning noon Friday, Oct. 15, and closed from Litchfield Road to Seventh Street beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 16. In addition, Fifth Street from Western Avenue to Agua Fria High School will be closed from 7 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Billy Moore Days

WHEN: Various times Friday, Oct. 15, and Saturday, Oct. 16

WHERE: Old Town Avondale

COST: Admission and parking are free, with costs for food, merchandise and saloon

INFO: 623-333-2400 or avondaleaz.gov/events