Valley family spreads Christmas spirit with holiday float

PHOENIX - It was a holiday surprise like no other for one north Phoenix neighborhood as a 40-foot Christmas float wound its way through the streets.

Surprised neighbors of all ages looked on as the Dolan family once again brought in a holiday spirit like no other.

"I'm always the driver. I'm always the one behind the scenes," said Ima Dolan, the woman who decided to create a family float 27 years ago for the annual Phoenix APS Electric Light Parade.

It started off as a little pedal car back then, but has dramatically grown in size.

"Now we have 70,000 lights on our float," Dolan said.

The decision to enter the light parade was because Dolan couldn't afford to buy Christmas presents for her kids one year. Instead, she paid $1 to enter the parade and told her kids they were "secret Santas" that year.

"It meant that we had to do nice things for other people. It meant that we had to give away things. Rather than get anything, we had to give to other people," Dolan said.

And after more than 20 years her children are carrying on the tradition, now watching their own kids turning into "secret Santas" before their very own eyes.

"It feels great. I mean it's one of those things where since we've been doing it for so long, we don't care about our own gifts anymore," said Dolan's son Brian.

And when her grandchildren were asked how long they would carry on the tradition, they excitedly replied they would keep it going for "1,000 years."

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