HOLBROOK, Ariz. — For the second year in a row, the National Football League is taking their draft days on the road and this year the Arizona Cardinals will be coming to Winslow for the third day of the draft.
According to City Manager Steve Pauken, “The man who is in charge of picking the destination for the draft day takes daily walks. One day, while on his walk, the song, ‘Take it Easy’ came on and he chose Winslow!”
From there, the Cardinals organization contacted the city and began planning the event, which will begin at 9 a.m. April 28, at the Standin’ On The Corner Park, located at Kinsley Avenue and Second Street.
Jennifer Wilbanks, administrative assistant for the City of Winslow, explained the plan. “The Cardinals will make three picks in our downtown area, the fourth round pick will be at the Standing on the Corner Park, the fifth round will be announced by Mayor Robin Boyd and the sixth round will be announced by the Winslow High School Bulldog football team.”
Excitement is growing in Winslow as downtown businesses ready for the arrival of the Arizona Cardinals and the spectators expected. Roberta Cano, City of Winslow Community Service Coordinator said, “We anticipate about the same amount of people we get for the Christmas parade, close to 10,000.”
An event this large requires security, traffic control and road closures. Winslow Police Chief Dan Brown said, “Quite a few agencies are coming together to make sure this is a fun and safe event for everyone. Right now, we have commitments for help from the Department of Public Safety, Navajo County Sheriff’s Office, the Sheriff’s auxiliary, Department of Corrections, the Arizona Rangers and more. More departments are signing on each day to help. A lot of the help we will be getting are citizen volunteers, they will help us out with traffic control.”
In order to give the Cardinals organization the room and security they need, Winslow will be closing the downtown area to through traffic beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 27. According to Brown, “We will block off First Street to Third Street from Williamson Avenue to Warren Avenue as well as all of the alleyways in that area the night before. The Arizona Rangers will be posted along the barricades overnight.”
Select vendors will be set up along Second Street, Cano explained. “We want there to be snacks and water available to the public, so we are inviting clubs and organizations to set up and raise money for their causes.” She was clear that the vendors that will be invited would be community groups that contribute to the town. “For example,” Cano said, “we would like to have the high school clubs, and the Catholic Daughters, organizations like that. If anyone is interested in vending or if they have questions they can call me at (928) 289-1411.”
Other attractions will include classic cars and pin-up girls to illustrate the historic significance of Route 66 in Winslow. The Cardinals will bring with them an inflatable obstacle course that will be set up in the Route 66 Plaza at Second Street and Kinsley Avenue, and the Cardinals cheerleaders and selected alumni will attend. Further, at least one of the drafted players will be making an appearance.
Following the main event downtown, the Cardinals and the Winslow Bulldog football team will host a kids camp at Emil Nasser Stadium located on Mulberry Street. The camp, according to Bulldog Head Coach Brandon Guzman, “Will be a kid sized version of football training. From what I understand there will be inflatable sleds and dummies, as well as an obstacle course. Each child will have to have a parent with them to sign a waiver. We don’t want anyone getting hurt.” The camp will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and kids ages 7 to 14 are welcome to come check it out.
Guzman also expressed his excitement for the event, “I think this is amazing, it’s the first time the Arizona Cardinals have been in Winslow and I am a Cards fan. It also gives our kids an opportunity to experience something like this where they probably wouldn’t otherwise get to.”
Guzman will be part of the draft pick itself along with his varsity football team. “The NFL is doing a campaign this year where they are really encouraging youth football and the involvement of youth sports around the country, so as far as I understand, our segment will be about getting kids on the field and getting them excited about football.” The Winslow High School Spirit Line will also be there to represent the Bulldogs.
The Standing on The Corner Foundation will be a part of the day, as they will be selling food and drinks with the proceeds going toward fixing the mural at the Standing on The Corner Park. The foundation is also sponsoring entertainment following the draft with live music from Cameron Byfield, a singer/songwriter from Glendale.
The public is invited to attend this event, which will be televised to an estimated two million people, according to Cano. Law enforcement does recommend however, that anyone planning to attend should give themselves plenty of time to find parking and be prepared to walk to downtown. As of press time, Chief Brown was not clear on whether or not a shuttle will be available for transportation of guests.
The first pick of the day, which is the fourth round draft pick will be held at 9 a.m., spectators are asked to be in position at that time, and remain behind the barricades. “We are excited for the event, it is going to be a lot of fun and we will make sure it is safe for everyone,” Brown said.
Reprinted with permission by the Holbrook Tribune