Scenes from Kenworth's annual truck parade, marking 50th anniversary of Ohio plant

Updated Jun 28, 2024
1946 kenworth on parade route
More than 62 trucks, including this 1946 model, participated the now-annual tradition of Kenworth's truck parade in Chillicothe, Ohio, home of its major manufacturing facility.

The Kenworth truck assembly plant in Chillicothe, Ohiio hosted what has now become the annual Kenworth Truck Parade in downtown Chillicothe. This year, the parade paid tribute to the plant’s 50th anniversary with its usual mixture of vintage Kenworths and more contemporary and custom trucks with invites to the company's customer base.

The 2024 parade, held this past weekend, featured more than 60 rigs, including a vintage 1923 Kenworth and models built in the 1940s, '50s and '60s up through to the present day trucks manufactured at the Chillicothe manufacturing plant.

2021 Kenworth T680 wrapped to honor plant's anniversaryThe final truck in the parade was a T680 high-roof sleeper specially wrapped in a design honoring the plant’s 50th anniversary, with historical images of Chillicothe, landmarks in the community, photos of the manufacturing plant and past truck parades.

Kenworth Chillicothe officially opened on March 4, 1974, and the plant’s first truck -- a Kenworth W900 -- rolled off the assembly line a day later. 

vintage 1923 kenworth with grand marshal and Dan MurphyTo commemorate the milestone, the parade was led by a vintage 1923 Kenworth and a very special passenger: parade grand marshal and 50-year Kenworth Chillicothe employee Dan Murphy.

Murphy, a well-known and respected plant employee, was hired just days after the plant first opened in 1974. He began as a production specialist, was promoted to section supervisor, and served as liaison engineer until his retirement in May of this year.Murphy, a well-known and respected plant employee, was hired just days after the plant first opened in 1974. He began as a production specialist, was promoted to section supervisor, and served as liaison engineer until his retirement in May of this year.

Parade events concluded with a live performance by the Mantz Brothers band from Nashville, Tennesee, on a trailer pulled by the T680 set up as a full-production concert stage. 

“The Kenworth Truck Parade has become a beloved June tradition in Ross County, made even more meaningful this year with the opportunity to celebrate 50 years of producing the World’s Best Trucks in Chillicothe,” said Jack Schmitt, Kenworth Chillicothe assistant plant manager. “We are grateful to this incredible community and the drivers who travel from near and far to make this special event so successful year after year.”

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Leading up to the truck parade, the Kenworth Chillicothe plant held events at its facility for drivers and their families participating in and attending the parade. It's been an eventful several years for the plant itself, a 622,000-square-foot facility featuring advanced manufacturing technologies like robotic assembly. A state-of-the-art paint facility utilizes the latest technology in the industry and went into production in October 2021 -- it's equipped with bell spray head technology that improves the appearance and transfer efficiency of the paint, the company noted. In 2022, the plant received two Manufacturing Leadership Awards for the new paint facility and the Henrob Error Proofing project, both from the National Association of Manufacturers.

Drivers had an opportunity to tour the plant, and the facility also hosted an employee event on the plant’s property during the day of the parade. 

[Related: Pete's invite-only Pride & Class parade and truck show]

To support the local community, Kenworth Chillicothe and the United Way of Ross County teamed up to coordinate a 50/50 raffle, with proceeds going to the United Way of Ross County. During the parade, Kenworth Chillicothe employees and members of the United Way of Ross County walked around the event to sell raffle tickets. Sponsorships of the VIP area along the parade route were also donated -- in total, more than $37,540 went into United Way of Ross County coffers.

More views from the event:

1995 kenworth t600

2024 kenworth w900l

kenworth w900l with spectators watching parade from both sides of the street