RAISE Holds Second Annual Parade

Setting the tone for the upcoming Halloween holiday, witches, zombies and villains took over Mesquite Blvd on a perfect evening last week.

On Thursday, Oct. 21, R.A.I.S.E Mesquite hosted its second annual Halloween Parade. Crowds began to line the street at 5:00 PM in anticipation for the community event. More than 29 floats and 12 ATVs went all-out with their Halloween decorations. Entries tossed thousands of pieces of candy to eager children dressed in Halloween costumes along the city street.

R.A.I.S.E organizers Carly Toutant and Beth Caplinger got the idea for this parade last year when so many events were being canceled due to COVID. Now the parade is on its way to becoming a community tradition.

“I was thrilled at the requests for participants this year,” said Toutant. “Having our (VVHS) high school band participate made me so happy because I marched in my hometown events as a drummer. Hearing their drum cadence made my soul happy!”

The ranks of R.A.I.S.E. Mesquite has grown this year made up mostly of locals who are retired. The group was able to collect 500 pounds of candy for the parade as well as generous monetary donations from the community.
The candy, collected during October, was stored in Shelia Gustaveson’s garage and bagged up in large totes.

Staff members from Mesquite Ace Hardware channel their inner villains as they throw candy to eager children at the RAISE Mesquite Parade last week. PHOTO BY AMY DAVIS/The Progress

Toutant began development on her “Nightmare before Christmas” themed float in August. As she was walking the parade path, Toutant was overwhelmed with the turnout. “As I was tossing out candy I could not believe how many people had come!” she said. “The kids were adorable and so excited.”
“One of our missions is to bring young and old together in a common goal or moment,” she added.

With former Ms. Senior Mesquite and the members of the Virgin Valley dance team both walking the parade route, Toutant feels like that goal of uniting the community is coming to fruition.
“I have never seen attendance at a parade in Mesquite like this,” said Jodi Johnson who participated with the VV-ETTES Float and Dance performance.

Johnson said that the R.A.I.S.E. Zombie Parade last year had done something that was desperately needed for the mental health of local children and parents last year
“Now the event has just taken off,” she said.

Johnson pointed out that the parade is a perfect way to kick off the line up of events taking place in the community this week.
“The spirit of Halloween was a buzz,” she said. “There was a feeling of excitement in the air that I have missed so much. I love seeing the community come together. Many thanks to Beth and Carly and everyone in R.A.I.S.E. Mesquite that made this happen!”

Lela Coburn, 4, attended the parade with her family. “I like all the fun and spooky costumes,” she said. “Good thing they aren’t real!”

Her Mother, Hilary said, “I love coming to these family-centered community events. It is so fun to see all the different businesses and groups that come out.”
“This was the best parade in a long time,” said Corey Houston who participated in the parade on behalf of Aravada Springs. “There were so many kids in costumes enjoying the parade, it was awesome!”

Jessica Meirhoff and the Mesquite Ace Hardware team were the grand finale for the parade with a float highlighting nine different Disney Villains. They sat a top their float tossing candy to the waiting crowd.
“The Halloween parade is our favorite,” said Meirhoff. “It is so fun and everyone is so happy and excited to be there. This year was even better because of our awesome staff participating.”

“Thanks goes to R.A.I.S.E. Mesquite,” Meierhoff added. “They do an awesome job and we hope they keep this tradition going.”

Toutant expressed gratitude for all of the many people that made this event possible. It takes many hands to pull of an amazing event of this size and she send her love to each and every single person who participated.

“Thank you to the City of Mesquite and our wonderful community!” concluded Toutant.