By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Until a few days after Thanksgiving, Danielle Bethell wasn’t sure that the Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s Keizer Holiday Lights Parade was going to live up to her expectations.

“I think the holiday crept up on everyone,” said Bethell, executive director of the Keizer Chamber. “We’ve gotten about 75 percent of the parade applications in since Thanksgiving. Right now, we have 54 entries and we should easily make it to the 55 we had last year. It’s a great reminder that we have fantastic volunteers driving this community event.”

The Keizer Holiday Lights Parade sponsored by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce and the City of Keizer arrives on River Road North Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m.

“We’ve had a number of groups and organizations sign up that haven’t been part of the parade in the past,” she said.

The line-up for the parade features several big name entries that are taking part for the first time. Newcomers include Comcast,  Budweiser, Salem Electric, United Rental, Mallorie’s Dairy. Band entries include McNary, South, Sprague and McKay high schools as well as The Beat Goes On.

The theme this year is Wrapped Wishes. Bethell said it was a take on they way she viewed the toy catalogs that arrived around the holidays.

“We would go through those catalogs and have everything circled by the end. We called them Wish-Me book. Christmas Day we got to find out which of those wishes was under the tree,” she said.

Bethell is eager to see how parade entrants interpret the theme.

The Grand Marshal of the parade will be Gerry Frank. Frank, until recently, was owner of Konditorei in Salem. Frank has deep roots in the retail, restaurant, political, civic and business activities of the state and is also an author.

“He’s a fan of all things kids and, when we talked about getting somebody to represent our target audience, Gerry was the logical choice,” Bethell said.

In addition to the parade itself, the Chamber has enlisted several partner vendors offering food and drink during the parade.

Willamette Valley Bank, Yenne and Schofield, and Copy Cats will offer warm drinks as part of the event. The St. Edward Latino Youth Program  will be serving up tamales. Lakepoint Community Church will have free cocoa at Remodeling by Classic Homes. Franz Bakery of Portland will serve  grilled cheese bites at JC’s Pizzeria. El Patron will serve tacos, quesadillas and Mexican hot chocolate.

Staging for the parade begins at 3:30 p.m. on Lockhaven Drive North between McClure Street N. and River Road. The parade will start at the intersection of Lockhaven and River Road and travel south ending at Glynbrook Street North.

River Road will close at 6 p.m. To make way for the Chamber’s annual Jingle Dash, a 5K fun run, which begins at 6:15 p.m. The run will begin at JC’s Pizzeria, 4200 River Road N. Cost is $17 to $37 for youth, depending on the day of registration, and $27 to $37 for adults. Registration can be completed on the Chamber website, www.keizerchamber.com.

Participants are encouraged to dress up and compete for the best costume award. Cookies, hot cocoa, and coffee will be waiting at the finish line.