By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Holiday Lights Parade sponsored by Salem Electric arrives on River Road North Saturday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m.

After two years of organizing the annual Keizer Holiday Lights Parade, Danielle Bethell, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, feels as though the Chamber members and volunteers are finally getting a handle on the process.

This time around, it started with a theme.

“Each year, people ask us what the theme is going to be the next time. That helped us realize how important it is and it got us thinking about it earlier,” Bethell said.

The theme for this year’s parade is Christmas in Candyland and the response has been enthusiastic to say the least.

“We had board members get excited about what it would look like, so I knew we had a winner. When we tell people, it seems to generate a spark of creativity quickly,” she said.

Salem Electric has opted to become a legacy sponsor of the parade into the future, but there is no set time for their engagement to expire.

Parade awards will be given for most festive, best use of lights, best choreography and best theme. Last year’s parade ended up with about 70 entries and Bethell expected it to be about the same this time around.

One thing is certain, there’s going to be plenty of music. Four high school bands are participating, 234th Army Band will be in the line-up, The Beat Goes On is coming down from Portland as is The Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers, a drumline group.

The Keizer Community Band is setting up at the intersection of Chemawa Road and River Road North to accompany the parade itself.

This year, the Grand Marshal of the parade will be Chet Patterson, a longtime Keizerite and volunteer. He’s currently a member of the Keizer Fire Board.

“One of my favorite things is calling the people we want to be Grand Marshal and, when I called Chet, he seemed to be blown away that anyone would think of him for that honor. He’s so humble and kind,” Bethell said.

Patterson has been a fixture in the Keizer community since 1978, when he and his wife of 41 years, Chris, moved into the Kennedy neighborhood to raise their family. He was one of the early proponents of Keizer’s incorporation as a city. As a member of the Keizer Incorporation Committee he co-authored the study that led to the successful incorporation of Keizer as a city. He was elected to the first city council and again in 1992. His expertise with budgets proved invaluable when he was selected as the City of Keizer’s first budget officer, as well. In 1992, Patterson was honored with the Volunteer of the Month Award and in 2009 he received the city’s first Heritage Award.

Bethell was hoping to enlist more food trucks to set up along the parade route to serve onlookers. So far, The Fire Pit, a pizza truck, and Willamette Valley Doughnut are committed to attending.

Along with the parade comes interruptions to traffic. Lockhaven Drive North between McClure Street N. and River Road will be closed for staging beginning at 3 p.m.

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 Jingle Dash will begin at the Chamber of Commerce’s new office, 4118 River Road North. Run 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.

The parade will start at the intersection of Lockhaven and River Road and travel south ending at Glynbrook Street North.River Road will re-open after the final float leaves the procession, likely about 9 p.m.