Submitted Photo

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

We’re just a couple of days away from the first-ever Festival of Lights parade in Keizer.

The parade was in downtown Salem since 1990, and is taking on the “Hoiday Spirit” theme when it kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, making its way down River Road from Lockhaven Drive all the way south to Plymouth Drive NE. It shuts down the city’s main arterial for several hours.

One advantage to having the event in Keizer is that River Road is essentially a straight shot, said Krista Noland, parade committee president. When the parade was downtown, entrants had to make several sharp turns.

“This provides an excellent opportunity to view the floats on a grander scales and a peek as to the entries that have yet to pass by,” Noland said.

Some 45 entries, including bands from throughout Salem and Keizer, provide the soundtrack to the thousands and thousands of lights expected to be on floats.

Marion-Polk Food Share is the financial beneficiary of cash donations taken up on the night of the event, with pre-parade promotions starting at 6:30 p.m. Trophies and plaques include the Grand Sweepstakes, the KBZY Award, Judge’s Choice, Salem Chamber of Commerce Award, the mayor’s trophy, KYKN Award, Best Use of Humor, Best Auto Entry, Best Use of Holiday Spirit, Best Auto Illumination, City Services Spirit Award, Best Little Roadhouse Award, and the Travel Salem award.

The Holiday Spirit Award is named in memory of Jan Cline, a Keizer resident who in years past helped organize the parade.

If you go, prepare for cool and wet weather, although Noland notes they’ve had good luck in years past.

“Somehow, the rain manages to stop just before the parade begins,” Noland said. “Let’s hope the pattern continues.

Nevertheless, umbrellas are recommended along with layering clothes, hats, mittens or gloves and hand and feet warmers. It might also be smart to bring a chair or something else to sit in or on, as the ground may be damp.

Financial problems derailed the 2010 Festival of Lights Parade after 20 years in Salem.

Organizers say prior events drew between 80,000 and 120,000 people, and they expect similar turnout in Keizer. December 2 is the last day to submit entries. For more information on how to sponsor or volunteer – or just learn more –
visit folholidayparade.org.