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The weather is cooling down, which means events are heating up—all with social distancing, of course.

On Saturday, November 7, AT&T will host the second annual Veterans Day Charity Three Miler walk and run event to honor veterans and fundraise for veteran-focused charities. At the meeting on October 6, town council approved the street closures necessary for the walk/run paths.

Participants can opt for a 3-mile run, a 1-mile walk or the virtual option.

“This is an outdoor event, so of course that gives us fresh air and lots of room to spread out,” said Kelsey Hughes, with AT&T Veterans.

At the event, there will be significant precautionary measures taken to reduce potential spread of COVID-19 and to follow state guidelines. Staggered start times will be used at the event beginning at 7 a.m. so not to “bottleneck” the participants as they go along the course, Hughes said.

“We’re going to encourage people when they arrive, to stay with the group they came with when they are on the path and to always respect that social distancing,” she added.

Carefree will also honor those who served our country with a socially distanced Veterans Day celebration at the new memorial in the Carefree Desert Gardens on November 11. The memorial’s organizers anticipate that the site will be fully finished by Veterans Day.

“In years past, we’ve had 200 to 300 people gather in the pavilion for a 3 o’clock Veterans Day program, and under the circumstances, that’s no longer possible,” said Vice Mayor John Crane. “So, we’re going to take a different approach.”

Crane, who was instrumental in the creation of the Veteran Memorial, described his vision for the event.

To comply with guidelines, the event will be staggered to lessen potential COVID-19 exposure. There will also be markers on the ground to encourage social distancing and there will be masks and hand sanitizer available.

Anyone wishing to honor vets can stop by the memorial from sunrise throughout the day until 3:30 p.m. The Boy Scouts who set up the flagpole’s installation will raise the flag at sunrise just before 7 a.m.

The veterans who organized the memorial will be present throughout the day to offer information about the site and share sentiments of what it means to have served our country.

A member of the veteran committee who managed and designed the memorial project along with a veteran-friendly support organization will be present at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., which will be the “high points” of the day, according to Crane. 

Street closures were also approved for the two potential Thunderbird Artist Festivals in Downtown Carefree. The 28th annual Winter Festival will potentially take place during the weekend of January 15, starting Friday and running through Sunday, January 17. The 26th annual Spring Festival will run from Friday, March 12, to Sunday, March 14. 

Both of these events have extended street closures to spread out attendees as much as possible. Hum and Ho Hum roads, Easy Street and Sundial Circle are the road closures approved for the potential events.  

The Carefree town staff as well as the Thunderbird Artists Management are working closely to implement methods to assure that both festivals observe all necessary social distancing requirements to follow the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Only the road closures were approved by the town council. As time inches closer to the event, the Carefree staff and Thunderbird Artists will closely observe the COVID-19 numbers to evaluate whether the event will be possible. The festival still must receive a final approval from town council, as the residents and visitors are the town’s top priority. 

“I’m fine on the street closure part, but I think we should monitor it,” Mayor Les Peterson said to the organizers during the meeting. “I’m scared to death. We keep getting reports that we may be in a trough of the virus right now and it may come back stronger, so I don’t want to give a blanket approval.”

The town council also heard a presentation on the implementation of Carefree’s new ambassador program, which was introduced by Town Councilwoman Cheryl Kroyer. She will work with Carefree Economic Development Director Steve Prokopek to organize the program in the next few months. It will help refer newcomers to the town’s stores, restaurants, galleries and attractions.

With the Hampton Inn becoming a likely attraction for tourists and newcomers, Carefree wants to seize the opportunity to establish the downtown area as a friendly, fun and interesting place. 

“We wanted to create an ambassador program that would piggyback on this grassroots energy and buzz that’s now taking place in our town’s center,” Kroyer said.

Ambassadors will serve as “signposts” to help newcomers navigate through the town. Volunteers who take on the ambassador role will point newcomers in the direction of the town’s hidden gems. This will help businesses grow and will help newcomers find the coolest sights the town has to offer, like the desert gardens, Kiwanis Splash Pad and North America’s largest sundial.

Volunteers will go through orientation and develop a compelling 2- to 3-minute message to encourage patronage and ensure that visitors come back for more.

Other things to note:

AZ voter registration deadline extended to October 23.

Census count deadline extended until October 31.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office issuing more traffic tickets.

Reviewed number of citations issued in Carefree.

Within a month, went from eight to 82, according to Peterson.

There are soon to be two openings in the Planning and Zoning commission.

Currently has around four candidates, according to Peterson.

Carefree residents interested in applying should submit a form and bio.


Council approved a proclamation declaring November 1 as “Extra Mile Day” to acknowledge the individuals who have made a difference with their dedication to make the world a better place within their organizations, families, community and country.

Council approved a proclamation declaring the month of October Domestic Violence Awareness Month to raise awareness for those affected and to highlight the need to expand education, prevention and intervention efforts to lessen the prevalence of domestic violence.

“Carefree Cares”/CCUSD Excellence Award Recipients:

•Andrew Cupo, theater teacher, Cactus Shadows High School.

•Shannon Griffith, seventh-grade teacher, Sonoran Trails Middle School.

•Katherine Herr, fourth-grade teacher, Lone Mountain Elementary School.

•Christine Huguley, third-grade teacher, Desert Sun Academy.

•Sue Jeffer, sixth-grade teacher, Desert Willow Elementary School.

•Madison Jones, sixth-grade teacher, Black Mountain Elementary School.

•Kathy Schutza, fifth-grade teacher, Horseshoe Trails Elementary School.


One teacher or staff member from each CCUSD school is honored with these awards each quarter. For the fourth quarter of 2019-20, peers selected these teachers to recognize their significant contributions to the students as well as the community. 

“We, as a municipality, deeply appreciate what you’re doing for our youth, particularly in these troubled times,” Peterson said.