The Keizer Holiday Lights Parade starts at 7 p.m. Saturday on North River Road. (Courtesy/ Keizer Police Department)
The Holiday Lights Parade is nearly here, and organizers are expecting more people at the event with the recent opening of burger chain In-N-Out.
Danielle Bethell, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, said the parade typically gets 40,000 attendees, but she’s expecting that number will be closer to 50,000 this year as people from the Portland area stay for the holiday festivities after eating at the California-based fast food chain.
“We have 60 floats in the parade,” Bethell said. “That’s a really good number for a nighttime parade.”
But keep your eyes peeled. There’s only one Santa in the mix.
“We really want to foster the spirit of imagination and build up excitement for (kids) to see Santa at the end,” Bethell said.
Bethell said there are a few floats that should stand out.
Salem Electric has been planning its float since August. Last year, the company won an award for the best use of sound in the parade. This year, the company’s float will be Santa’s ride.
Chemawa Indian School’s float will feature students singing and playing traditional drum music.
The Cherriots transit service is celebrating 40 years and is using that theme on this year’s bus in the parade.
May Trucking Company decorated a semi-truck for the parade and Bethell said she’s always amazed at what they can do with a truck that size.
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The National Guard Marching Band is leading the first half of the parade, followed by five other marching bands.
The parade lasts around an hour and a half. It starts at 7 p.m. at the intersection of North Lockhaven Drive and North River Road and runs nearly two miles to Glynbrook Street. North Lockhaven Drive will be closed from North River Road to North McClure Street starting at 3 p.m.
Bethell said drivers should enter from the southern end of Keizer because of congestion on the Chemawa Road interchange due to long lines at In-N-Out.
The Keizer Chamber of Commerce has hosted the parade since 2016, and Bethell said since then it has expanded into an event that gets more of the community and local businesses engaged.
“We’ve taken the format of the parade and turned it into something that really benefits the community,” she said.
She said the best place for people to watch the parade is at businesses along the route. Many of these businesses will offer hot beverages and other comforts for the chilly weather including:
-Willamette Valley Bank will have a food truck, hot cocoa, cookies and heaters in their parking lot.
-Copy Cats will have hot cocoa and cider.
- Remodeling by Classic Homes Inc will have The Big Noodle food truck, smores and cocoa.
-The Columbia Bank parking lot will have Marion County Republicans serving hot cocoa.
- O’Reilly Auto Parts will have The Rolling Bridgeway Café food truck serving free cocoa, roasted vegetable soup and shrimp bisque.
-Farmers Insurance agent Gino Corridori will have cocoa.
Before the parade, runners will be racing down North River Road for the Jingle Dash 5k, which starts at the Keizer Chamber of Commerce at 6 p.m.
Bethell suggested people wanting to park at any of the businesses should do so before the race.
Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.