Philomath Fire and Rescue's Old Engine No. 1 decorated with lights in 2020. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Local residents and those coming in from surrounding communities will have a new event to experience next month with the introduction of the Philomath Parade of Lights. The special event, hosted by the city, has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16.

“The city traditionally hasn’t really done a lot of events in the community,” City Manager Chris Workman said. “We’ve kind of supported other groups that have done things but we’ve not really done any on our own in a long time, so it’ll be a little bit of a first.”

Workman said the idea of a light parade has been floated around for years by Chief of Police Ken Rueben. Workman approached Rueben in early October to gauge interest and start planning.

“We talked about the route and with the construction on Main Street and Applegate, the thought was ‘let’s stay out of the construction area for this year’ and actually, we could just do the parade route that we used for the Frolic,” Workman said.

Philomath Police will provide traffic control. The route begins on South 19th Street, heads north to Applegate Street, turns west to South 15th, proceeds south down to Cedar Street and then goes west again and crosses Fern Road into the rodeo grounds.

Philomath Mayor Chas Jones will identify the parade’s top float with the “Best Lit Float Award.”

“The city is hosting it and we’re partnering with the Frolic and Rodeo to do the registrations,” Workman said. “So anybody who wants to do a float — businesses, nonprofits, churches, any organization that would like to do a float — can go to the Frolic website and click on the link to get started.”

The registration cost is $15 for the first vehicle and $5 for additional vehicles. Horse entries are $15 each. Those who want to participate can register online but entries will also be accepted on the day of the event with sign-up beginning at 5 p.m. at the Philomath High School entrance.

Entries would then proceed to the lineup at around 6 p.m., which like the Frolic parade this past summer, will be situated near the middle school with the front end pointing south toward Chapel Drive.

Partnering with the Frolic and Rodeo for the registration system allows the city to keep costs down.

“It’s not a ton of work other than the day of just to get the police department on board and having some volunteers to help everybody get checked in and registered and then the mayor to pick a winner,” Workman said. “I don’t want to oversimplify it because it’s a big event but this seemed like a fairly small expense for the city to be able to put on a fun event.”

Although the parade will take place during the holiday season, participants can choose any theme. Said Workman, “Be whatever holiday you want or do no holiday at all — it’s just the Parade of Lights.”

Corvallis had a holiday season parade for several years but it hasn’t been held since 2019. Workman said the Frolic and Rodeo used to participate in that event every year and won several Best Musical Float awards. The Corvallis Community Band often rode and played on the Frolic float.

“When the Corvallis parade stopped, it just seemed like an appropriate time to look at doing something for Philomath,” Workman said. “We’re more than happy to have businesses and folks from Corvallis come over and enjoy our parade like we enjoyed theirs for so long.”

Workman is just getting started on spreading the word to various organizations about participating in the parade. And he issued a specific invite.

“We welcome and encourage all of our logging companies that are so supportive of the Frolic and Rodeo parade to come out and participate,” he said. “We’d love to see all of our loggers and our truckers with their big rigs — wash them off and light them up and keep that tradition going.”

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.