Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill named Grand Marshal of the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade

The Fiesta Bowl organization appointed Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill as Grand Marshal of the 2018 Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade. The announcement came during a press conference on Thursday, during which Phoenix-based Desert Financial Credit Union was named the new title sponsor for the parade.

Desert Financial Credit Union, the largest credit union in Arizona, signed a multi-year agreement with the Fiesta Bowl organization. The announcement comes several weeks after Cheez-It was chosen as the title sponsor for the previously-named Cactus Bowl, the other college football bowl game run by the Fiesta Bowl organization. Cheez-It will be a presenting sponsor for the parade as well.

Bidwill will lead the parade—with its Fiesta Forty Eight | State Forty Eight theme—along a two-mile route through Central Phoenix.

“The theme this year is to celebrate our 48 years as a staple in this community and Arizona as the 48th state and Michael’s contributions to the community make him a great Grand Marshal to help us honor Arizona and this special milestone,” said Mike Nealy, executive director of the Fiesta Bowl, in a press release.

The position of Grand Marshal is intended to honor an individual or group with a vision that supports the Fiesta Bowl’s commitment to enhancing the state through economic growth, charitable giving and innovation.

“This is truly an honor,” Bidwill said. “When you look at the list of former Grand Marshals, it’s an incredibly impressive list of the who’s who of Arizona sports and of people that have done great things, not only for our community but for our country.”

The previous Grand Marshals have “set the tone” for how to leverage  involvement in sports to do good things, Bidwill said.

“This organization, the Fiesta Bowl, started as a small idea and has grown into really the pinnacle of college football excellence in Arizona and one of the cornerstones of college football excellence around the country,” Bidwill said. “Football is the number one sport in the United States, and we all—whether it’s professional or college—carry a great opportunity to do some great things with it.”

Desert Financial Credit Union has been a partner of the Fiesta Bowl organization since 2014.

“Desert Financial started nearly 80 years ago as a credit union for teachers in the Valley, and in those 80 years it’s been very important for us to support the educational community,” said Cathy Graham, chief marketing officer at Desert Financial. “But also, giving back to the community in general is a big part of our mission, so hopefully you can see just the synergy between Desert Financial and the Fiesta Bowl.”

Desert Financial changed its name from Desert Schools Federal Credit Union earlier this year and decided to make 2018 a Year of Giving to promote the change and make it meaningful, Graham said, and the company is committed to contributing $7 million in charitable giving in the community this year. The Fiesta Bowl organization has also committed to contribute $2.5 million in charitable giving in Arizona this year.

The Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade will take place on December 29 at 10 a.m. in Central Phoenix and will be broadcasted live and commercial-free on Channel 3 (KTVK). The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl game will take place on January 3, 2019.

Graham Bosch

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