Celebrating its 24th year, the D.R. Johnson Memorial Timber Truckers Lighted Parade will brighten up the highway at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 9. Spectators will watch the dazzling fire engines, timber trucks, cement trucks and more roll through Riddle, Tri-City and Myrtle Creek.
“It’s a way to be a part of the community and be apart of something positive in our area,” said Jeff Johnson, the parade coordinator for 24 years.
“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,” he said.
What started as a way to support timber companies, and is now in conjunction with the Myrtle Creek Winter Festival, has evolved into a holiday celebration and a time to bring families and communities together. Johnson said the event is a family tradition — one that he said is very rewarding.
“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.”
The mastermind behind the parade, D.R. Johnson, founded it in 1993 in John Day to bring recognition to the timber industry and its contributions to Oregon.
The following year, D.R. Johnson relocated his lumber mill to Riddle and continued the parade to demonstrate community involvement. It has since become one of the largest in the area, highlighting winter holidays and festivities.
The Ledbetter family of Tri City has been coming to the event for years to enjoy the lights.
At last year’s parade, Katrina Ledbetter said how she enjoys how it brings the community together. “It’s a big get together and it’s fun.” She added that after the trucks go by, they enjoy driving along the route to spot all the bonfires.
Over the years, as many as 15,000 people are estimated to have lined the 5-mile route to see the parade, according to the Myrtle Creek-Tri City Chamber of Commerce. It is common to see people burning bonfires and cheering on drivers who throw candy into the crowd.
Christine Morgan of Canyonville, along with her family, 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.
Approximately 40 to 60 participants are in the parade each year, some who sport between 40,000 to 50,000 string lights on one truck. To reward drivers for their involvement and dedication to the event, the evening ends with cash prizes in six categories, including a $500 prize for “best of show,” awarded in Myrtle Creek. Total prizes exceed $3,500 annually.
“We really appreciate the participants, the work they put into it and the dedication they have to bring cheer to the area,” Johnson said.
Any street-legal motorized vehicle may enter the parade for free as long as it displays at least one string of working holiday lights. Event organizers encourage all participants to pre-register, however that is not a requirement.
For more information, or to pre-register, call D.R. Johnson Lumber Co. at 541-874-2231.