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Tricked-out rigs transform into stars of the holiday parade

By on November 1, 2013
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Ever see those videos of over-the-top home holiday decorations? Well, when it comes to seasonal sizzle, truckers are providing their own version of high-wattage cheer.

In the Pacific Northwest, for example, trucks have long had a prominent role in area holiday parades. Yep, right after the marching bands and baton twirlers, lit-up big rigs are cruising the parade route — and in some cases proving so popular that they have to park in a special area afterward for photo shoots.

On Vancouver Island, the Island Equipment Operators Association puts on the Victoria Truck Parade every year as a fundraiser for a local food bank, says John White, editor and publisher of Pro-Trucker Magazine. With more than 80 trucks, it’s quite the spectacle. White was able to talk a few of the drivers — with a boost from the BC Ferry Commission, which agreed to issue passes — to bring their rigs to the mainland to launch the “Big Rigs for Kids” lighted truck parade in Surrey four years ago.

“They have some with 10,000 lights,” says White, who also is the director of the Surrey Christmas Bureau. “We knew they would be really popular, and that it would help us raise money for disadvantaged families at Christmas time.”

He was right. After the parade, the trucks are parked for viewing and photos, and locals vote for favorites with loonies (Canadian dollars) that go to the charities. Last year the event raised enough funds to provide 2,500 families with gifts, as well as help stock the Surrey Food Bank’s larder.

“It’s amazing,” White says. “We get 10,000 or more people in this dinky little town just for the parade, and now we’re running between 35 and 40 trucks!”

Down the coast a ways, bedazzled trucks have been lighting up the night sky in Eureka, Calif., for more than three decades, thanks to a Christmas convoy that’s had as many as 100 rigs in it. Like its northern counterpart, the annual event raises money for local charities.

“The rigs themselves include large tractor-trailers, as well as 18-wheelers that stretch as long as 60 feet, not including some special parade additions that might be tacked on: bandstand platforms, dancing reindeer, flying fish, giant Santas, you name it,” says Richard Stenger, media and marketing manager for the Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Some trucks use more than 40,000 lights, requiring three generators to run. They flash, blink and winkle, sometimes in cadence to music.”

But however many lights, and whatever their color and figuration, there is one tradition that all participants must honor, and every attendee delights in.

Every truck horn blasts “Jingle Bells,” as best they can.


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