California’s Christmas spirit must be more ironic than contagious for the state to rank first nationwide for both strictest emission rules and host to the most holiday truck parades.
Less than a dozen U.S locations are in this unique category, which excludes parades not during the holiday season and Christmas fire truck parades. The Golden State has six such parades, while Oregon has two and Hawaii one. All these events are north of Sacramento and in southwest Oregon, in communities where logging is or has been key.
Community groups usually organize these events, which are incorporated into annual season events, such as the lighting the town’s Christmas tree. Additionally, the parades frequently are incorporated into food or donations drives and if entry fees are charged, proceeds benefit local charities.
Recently, some events dropped truck from parade titles to indicate a broader scope of entries. While all the parades require entries be decorated with electric lights, only Paradise, California limits participation to trucks.
Occasionally, events are called off because of low participation, despite crowd popularity. In California, Gualala just had its Lighted Truck Parade, but cancelled in 2010 because of too few entries. Still, its past parades reportedly have drawn up to 2,000 onlookers, about equal to the coastal town’s population.
The best known of these parades is north of Gualala in Eureka. In 1978, local loggers hauled a 17,000-pound redwood peanut to the White House to protest the expansion of the Redwood National Park. When President Jimmy Carter declined their gift, they returned home, sculpture in tow.
As Christmas neared, they paraded the peanut through Eureka and again the following December. A local radio station organized the effort after the city eventually recognized the parade as an annual event. Today, 60 trucks usually participate but any vehicle can enter to honk out “Jingle Bells” on the 7.5-mile route.
The oldest of the parades has been a Hawaii standard since 1960 in Kamuela, better known as Waimea. It was begun express appreciation to truckers for contributions to a region dominated by ranching, logging and farming.
Twenty-three years ago, an Oregon parade was created to recognize the contributions of timber employees. As many as 15,000 people have watched the 90-minute convoy from Riddle to Myrtle Creek, which has included trucks sporting as many as 50,000 lights.
Parade schedules are below.
• Paradise Lighted Truck Parade, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3
• Fort Bragg Holiday Lights Parade, formerly Lighted Truck Parade, 7 p.m. Dec. 3
• Ukiah Parade of Lights, formerly Truckers’ Light Parade, 6 pm. Dec 3.
• Fortuna Al Gray Lighted Parade, formerly Lighted Truck Parade, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9
• Eureka Truckers Parade, 6 p.m. Dec. 10
La Pine Christmas Light Parade, formerly Holiday Trucker’s Light Parade, 6 p.m. Dec 3.
Myrtle Creek Timber Trucker’s Light Parade 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10
Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3.