Community. Family. Positivity. The holiday spirit. These are words heard repeatedly whenever you speak to someone involved with the D.R. Johnson Memorial Timber Truckers Parade.
“You can’t describe the feeling when you see all the people lining the streets and the impact it makes for people to forget the stresses and enjoy a nice holiday evening with their friends and family,” said Jeff Johnson, the parade coordinator since the first parade in 1993.
Christine Morgan of Canyonville, along with her family said they have maybe missed two parades since it’s beginning. Being together and enjoying each others company while sipping hot chocolate is a reason this parade has become a tradition in the Morgan family.
“Making Christmas memories for our grandchildren is a big part. The trucks that display a Jesus theme are the best. Without Christ, there is no Christmas,” Morgan said.
She added that the parade is also such a colorful way to celebrate Douglas County’s logging heritage.
Employees of A&M Transport have been involved with the parade for years, sometimes entering their tow truck and wrecker, but their serious involvement began in 2012.
“We always try to involve our employees, our drivers, mechanics and office personnel,” said Ryan Owens, who handles A&M’s Dry Van Operations for Washington and Oregon. “We have a great time. Honestly, if you want to get into the Christmas spirit, just go to that parade.”
A&M recruits about 10 to 15 people to decorate a full tractor trailer the morning of the parade. With their trucks constantly on the road, A&M sometimes has a hard time getting their equipment home in time. They have missed the past couple of years due to scheduling conflicts, but will have a truck in this year’s parade. According to Owens, all of their employees are excited to join the festivities again.
“For us, it is a big process of getting up early and getting all our lights together,” Owens said. “It’s an all day event.”
No matter the design, A&M always leaves room for employees and their families to ride along.
“We like riding on the float. The best part of that is that you get to wave at everybody and see everybody as you’re going down the road,” Owens said.
A&M has taken home the first place prize for “best of show” in 2012, 2013 and 2015; they won second place in 2014.
“The parade is near and dear to me as my uncle started it and passed away in 2010,” Johnson said. “It’s something I think D.R. would want to continue forever and ever.”
Dan Jocoy helps with the Tri City Baptist Church’s live nativity scene and float decorations. He remembers one year when the float had a brand new generator; the old one had been coughing and sputtering, with lights rising and falling with the electrical surges.
“We left Riddle on the route with a float full of happy people and colorful lights. No more than five minutes in, this never-used generator died. Everyone on our float looked at me thinking I knew what to do. I didn’t,” Jocoy said. “I quickly ran over and fired it up. It started, only to die again, and start, and die — all the way to Myrtle Creek. I pull-started it at least 150 times, and breathed in enough carbon monoxide to choke a horse. We won second place.”
“I think the thing that sets it off is Christmas is about people and family and thanks and giving,” Owens said. “It is so much work, but once you get on the road, it is all worth it.