Grand Marshal Lyndon Zaitz with Dave Walery and Danielle Bethell representing the Keizer Chamber of Commerce. Zaitz was surprised with the offer to be grand marshal in November. 

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s Toys and Tinsel Parade hits River Road North Saturday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m., but you should plan to arrive early – possibly very early. 

The parade has brought as many as 40,000 additional visitors to Keizer, but In-N-Out will be adding to that traffic count throughout the weekend. The company’s Keizer Station location was expected to open Thursday, Dec. 12, at press time.

“We are encouraging everyone to use the Salem-Keizer Parkway to access River Road,” said Danielle Bethell, executive director of the chamber. 

There were no forecasts of expected burger traffic, but those seeking burgers, and those seeking the parade and those taking part in both are likely to snarl traffic throughout the city. 

The traffic impacts begin at 3 p.m., when Lockhaven Drive N. is closed to all traffic between River and McClure Street N. to establish a parade staging area. River Road North is expected to close about 5:30 p.m. between Lockhaven Drive North and Glynbrook Avenue. Prior to the parade, which is sponsored by Salem Electric, the annual Jingle Dash will take center stage.  

Traffic will periodically be allowed to cross River Road at Chemawa Road before the parade begins.

The Jingle Dash 5K race starts (and finishes) at the chamber office, 4118 River Road N., and allows participants to run on River Road.

Participants are encouraged to dress up for the best costume awards by wearing their best Santa suit, reindeer horns or twinkle lights.

Parking for runners will be available Keizer Lions Club, 4300 Cherry Ave NE. Cost is $30 for adults and $20 for kids 12 years or younger. Participants can register online at keizerchamber.com or at the Keizer Chamber office.

River Road is expected to re-open around 9 p.m. as the parade continues southbound. 

Signs advising of street closures will be placed leading up to the day of the parade. Police are asking for sidewalks along River Road to be kept clear of chairs until the parade starts so that disabled citizens can travel on them.

The parade itself will have about 60 entries, which is down from prior years, but there will be lots of new faces.

“About a third of the participants haven’t been part of the parade since the chamber of commerce took over,” Bethell said. 

She was eager to see what two schools, Chemawa Indian School and Cumming Elementary School came up with. Bethell expected the largest entry to be one associated with the TimberUnity movement. 

While there will be politically-themed floats, Bethell said great care is being taken to keep everything family friendly. 

School bands from McNary, McKay, South Salem and Sprague high schools will be part of the procession. The 234th Army Band will be in the line-up will lead the parade, and The Beat Goes On, a senior marching band, is coming down from Portland.

One bullet the chamber managed to dodge this year was a flood of calls asking for what to decorate floats with. Bethell credited a strong, simple theme –Toys and Tinsel – with warding off the phone calls this time around. 

Lyndon Zaitz, publisher of the Keizertimes, will serve as the parade grand marshal. Zaitz is a longtime volunteer with numerous community organizations ranging from the Keizer Heritage Foundation to the Rotary Club of Keizer. 

Those looking for food or warm drink along the route shouldn’t have much trouble finding some. St. Edward Catholic Church (tamales), Yenne & Schofield (cocoa), Willamette Valley Bank (food truck), Wells Fargo Bank, (cocoa) O’Reilly Auto (food truck), Columbia Bank (food truck), Remodeling by Classic Homes (food truck), Keizer Village Shopping Center (tacos by El Patron) Farmers Insurance (cocoa) and Copy Cats (cocoa) are all expected to host some form of treat or full-blown meals.