I Love a Parade

The Arizona Diamondbacks in conjunction with their partner APS have implemented a program referred to as the APS Renewables Kids Club. This free program allows kids with their parent’s permission to fill out a form and be given a membership card. The card can be used to gain points for attending Diamondbacks home games.

This fan loyalty program has been in existence several years although with different sponsors and under different names. The child swipes his or her card at various red kiosks throughout Chase Field along with their game day ticket and are awarded 10 points for each game they attend.

IMG_0092Prizes are given at various levels to reward the children for attending more and more games. The prizes range from a pass to go to the front of the line for “Kids Run the Bases” to T-shirts, to puzzles and other trinkets.

While to many these trinkets may seem cheap, around our house they are highly coveted and become a badge of honor as the kids display them to their friends and explain how many games they had to attend in order to receive the item. I’ll admit, there are several of these items that I would like to have myself leading to lengthy negotiations and out-and-out bribery to get the kids to give them up.

The top prize in the Renewables Kids Club is earned when the member accumulates 3,000 points, which is roughly 30 games since each game is worth 10 points (there are some games that bonus points are given so it’s not exactly 30 games). This is a sore spot with my son Dakota who cannot fathom why the program stops awarding points half way through the season total (ah, a boy after my own heart).

Dakota will typically attend 40 to 50 games a year so stopping the rewards at 30 is hard for him to understand. Despite not receiving any more prizes, he continues to swipe his card at the kiosk with the hopes that a new prize will magically appear.

The reward for reaching this top level is an on-field parade before the game on September 20 where the child with an accompanying adult is able to walk around the warning track at Chase Field while fans cheer from the stands and his picture is shown on dbTV.

IMG_0094Today was the day of the parade and Dakota and I went down to the stadium early to ensure he was at the appropriate spot before the allotted time. We made our way to the back of the stadium to begin lining up for the parade. As Dakota walked towards the area, members of the Renewables Kids Club came over to welcome him.

It was at this moment that I came to the realization that perhaps we go to too many games. The Kids Club members knew Dakota by sight and by name and greeted him with smiles and hand shakes. Dakota went to his place in line then proceeded to play games on his iPod Touch while he waited.

I was excited to be included in the parade and walked around soaking in all of the experience as we waited. I asked Dakota if he was nervous going out onto the field. He gave me a puzzled look and stated nonchalantly, “Dad, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this.”

My wife Trina and I have had this discussion on several occasions that perhaps the kids have become spoiled at the ballpark. They have gotten to go out onto the playing field and have met several of the players becoming friends with them through the years. As a result, they seem to think that every kid has the same experiences. It is not until they begin talking to their friends and classmates that they learn how special these events are and how unique the experience actually is.

So as we began walking towards the field level passing through the tunnel and into the visitor’s bullpen I ask Dakota if any of his friends have done something like this. He admitted they have not and I asked him how they would feel if they were in his shoes at that moment.

He stopped to ponder that fact and soon his attitude changed. He was no longer someone who was making their fourth consecutive trip around the warning track in a parade but instead looked at this experience in a new way gaining appreciation for what it meant.

I want to personally thank the Arizona Diamondbacks and APS for implementing this program. It has given our family an opportunity not only to experience something new at the ballpark but game me a chance to teach a valuable life lesson to my son and give him a greater appreciation for what he has to be thankful for. This truly was a parade to remember.



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