Something was stirring in the streets of Corvallis on Friday night.
People lined the sidewalks, huddled under blankets. And just beyond the sound of rush hour traffic, there was a song. There were many songs. “O Come, All Ye Faithful” rang out from the corner of Washington Avenue and Fourth Street, leading the way to what amounted to a bizarre block party — but a party just the same.
The only attire requirement? Lights. Lights on cars and trucks and trolleys and wagons. Lights on anything that would accommodate them, including dogs, horses and people alike.
“The music isn’t always this loud but if you mean the chaos, yes it’s always like this,” said Marc Vomocil as he weaved his way in and out of the floats, waiting to turn the corner and start the 35th annual Corvallis Community Christmas Parade.
This year‘s theme? "Santa Rocks Christmas."
Vomocil has been organizing the parade for the Corvallis Lions Club for more than 20 years. He lost count of how long he’s been heading up the coordination efforts after the Lions took over 25 years ago.
Kim Gardner has been lining up near Fourth and Washington for a number of years too. On Friday, she manned a float built by the Claws & Paws of the Round Table, a group that's part of the Benton County 4-H Club.
“The kids built this themselves,” she said. “They cut the Christmas tree out of plywood and built the seats they’re sitting on.”
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Down the street and across Washington, the Ashbrook Independent School group was readying a train float decked out in lights and an operating steam mechanism.
“We’ve been in the parade multiple years but now our float has more of a Christmas theme,” said the school's community engagement coordinator, Julia Baker, who added that the new theme was courtesy of students’ parents, Justin Malo and Ty Raschein.
“They did all of it,” she said, noting that the float was rigged with heaters and had plenty of hot chocolate for the students who climbed aboard to help toss candy to parade watchers.
Groups lined Washington between Fourth and Fifth streets, playing music and zigzagging through the street on bikes. Some rushed to put last-minute details in place while others donned costumes in an attempt to take home a judges' choice win at the end of the night.
A 2-year-old Labrador named Sparky, a newcomer to the action, prepared for his walk down the crowded street with his 5-year-old sister, Ursala. “She has done it before,” said owner Julia Long of Ursala, who walked with the First Alternative Co-op. “He hasn’t done it yet; it’s his first time,” she added.
Crowds braved temperatures hovering in the low 30s to catch candy and wave at the floats as they passed. They were led by grand marshal Mark Webber, a 37-year Lion Club member.
“It takes a while to finish,” Vomocil said of the route, adding that the floats that win get a ribbon — and bragging rights.