The holiday season got underway Friday with a festive 33rd edition of the Corvallis Community Parade as 60 or so entries paraded up Fourth Street on a clear, cool night with a half moon watching in the southern sky.
“How about this weather!” crowed parade announcer Skip Volkmann while he waited for entries to pass the reviewing stand. “I’ve been up here for 15 years and I’ve been here when it has been freezing cold and when it has been pouring down rain. We've got great weather here."
The temperature was approaching 40 when the parade concluded around 8:30 p.m., but the streets were dry, and a crowd in the 4,000 to 5,000 range lined Fourth Street five or six deep in some spots.
The theme of this year’s parade was “Rudolph Guides our Parade Tonight.” Many of the entries worked hard to include the reindeer theme, from large red balloons on the “noses” of vehicles to blinking lights on horses and dogs.
The grand marshal for the event, which is sponsored by the Corvallis Lions Club and the Downtown Corvallis Association, was local businessman, civic leader and philanthropist Bond Starker. In addition to leading the family timber business for more than 40 years, Starker has been involved with the Old Mill Center for Children and Families, Community Outreach, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Oregon State University.
Entries that featured horses (large, small and Clydesdale) and other animals drew the biggest responses from the crowd. And the addition of a Goat Yoga van likely pushed this year’s edition of the parade into record territory for participation from goats.
As the nicely choreographed horses that were part of the award-winning entry of Casas Unidos Latinos de Benton County passed by, a young girl turned to her father and said “Dad, I want one.”
Later, when the Welcome Waggers therapy dog group got to the reviewing stand a woman broke into “Ooh, I love that puppy. Can we get another one?”
And the presence of the animals led to an efficient, well-staffed three-wheelbarrow brigade of pooper-scoopers.
Benton County Commissioners Anne Schuster and Annabelle Jaramillo were seated in the back of a county Public Works vehicle festooned with a traffic warning sign that blinked “FOLLOW RUDOLPH.”
A clever entry from the Steel Rangers, a group that works to reduce litter in wilderness areas, featured a Rudolph made out of aluminum cans and plastic bottles. And when one of the cans fell to the street — it was picked up immediately.
The 90 minutes of fun ended with the arrival of Santa Claus and Mrs. Santa atop a Corvallis Fire Department ladder truck, with Volkmann then leading a countdown to the lighting of the Benton County Courthouse and its grounds.