The 65th Annual Springfield Christmas Parade

Melodies and Memories Springfield Christmas Parade
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A Community Tradition in Springfield’s History
(by Marilee Woodrow)

In its 62th year, the Springfield Christmas Parade is a time-honored community tradition the Springfield citizens anticipate every year. It has gained the notable reputation of being the “oldest and coldest” (and sometimes “wettest”) parade in Oregon. There have been years of sunny and dry weather, but so far the “damper and frostier” reputation still maintains.

Many community efforts have focused on keeping the parade up and going through the years. Usually to a crowd of 8-10,000 or more along the parade route, it has opened the holiday season for our local families, friends and all the children on that first Saturday in December. Up to 8 years ago, the Springfield Chamber of Commerce had been the major energy behind the hosting of the Parade each year. In 2002, the Springfield Community Parade Corporation was formed by 5 local citizens with the express purpose of continuing the parade’s community tradition. Since that year, the SCPC has hosted the Springfield Christmas Parade with the help and support of generous donations of time and money from local sponsors, both commercial and private.

It began in 1953 with the majority of the floats being handmade and a “family affair”. Through the years, floats and decorated cars, lots of decorated horses and other animals, along with the marching units of bands and dancers, and more, have all entered in the community spirit of our grand parade. Handmade and family entries are still as much a part of the parade today as the more detailed and fancier floats. In 1954, “Santa and Reindeer to Visit Springfield” made the headlines of the local paper. In 1955, there were 26 floats – compared to recent numbers of almost 100 entries. The parade has continued consistently each year all the way up to today. We have yet to confirm notice of a parade that was cancelled, although there is a rumor that one year that slick roads put the parade “on ice”. Many organizations in recent years have set up their floats to collect toys and food along the parade route for sharing with the community during the rest of the season.

This year the parade’s theme is “Rockin’ the Drift Boat! – a Springfield Birthday Bash”. The City of Springfield has been celebrating its 125th birthday throughout 2010. The Springfield Christmas Parade has combined its holiday theme with the culmination of the city’s birthday celebrations. The Drift Boat has long been a symbol of Springfield and its “Proud History” and is combined with a birthday celebration that looks back through its 125 years and forward to at least that many more in a “Bright Future”. What a way to celebrate the community spirit of this wonderful city!

A Grand Marshal is chosen each year to lead the parade. They have ranged from individual community figures to an entire marching band. Springfield High School Marching Band hasn’t missed a year of marching in the parade and they were honored as Grand Marshals in 2002. This year, our Grand Marshal is Dan Egan, the Director of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce since 1995.

Dan has lived in the Springfield-Eugene area since 1981.  He has lived in Springfield since 1990 and currently lives in the Washburn District of Springfield with his wife Jody.

For several years, he was associated with the management of the Springfield Christmas Parade which was a Chamber event for 50 years.  In his role, he and the Chamber staff and volunteers strived to make the annual parade the best it could be.  Dan has great memories of perfect weather days, not so perfect days, and days in which the parade’s moniker – Oregon’s Oldest and Coldest Christmas Parade – really lived up to its reputation.<>

The current parade organization has produced the parade for the past 8 years. Egan’s never ending strong support of the current parade group, in addition to his prior support on behalf of the Chamber, made him the key selection for Grand Marshal in 2010.

Dan says that he most enjoyed the community spirit, the appreciation of the thousands lining the parade route, and the pride of Springfield and Springfield’s businesses and organizations, its citizens, and the parade entries exhibited as they marched down the streets of this great Oregon city.

He is proud and honored to be this year’s Grand Marshal. He encourages everyone to be a part of the festivities including the Tuba Concert, great weather, and a greater Christmas Parade.

After Springfield’s Mayor cuts the ribbon to open the parade, look for the Grand Marshal behind the Antique Police Car. It is expected that Dan will be accompanied by a float designed by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s Greeters. Look for Dan to lead the parade with energy and style!

In 2001, the Tuba Carol Concert was added to the city’s Saturday festivities. This concert is one of the longest running events of its type in America. 60–80 tubas and euphoniums play traditional, and some non-traditional, Christmas and holiday music for a captive audience downtown. Since 2001, on Main Street between 5th and 6th, “oom pah pah’s” have begun the day’s festive air preliminary to the appearance of the parade itself.

This year the SCPC is having its ‘Fourth Annual Window Decorating Contest’ for the businesses along the parade route. Staying in the context of a holiday theme, we again hope to see lots of businesses join in the fun of “dressing up” Springfield for the holidays, and having a chance to win ‘The Prize’ for “Best Decorated Window”.

It’s the Springfield Community Spirit at its best – from parade participants …to parade watchers …to holiday spirit …to the Christmas music …to the cold and happy faces …to the waving hands …to the marching bands and animals …to families and friends …to the sound of fire trucks …to the scouts…to the snuggly scarves and mittens …to all our city police and fire personnel …to the many organizations and businesses who take part …to all the volunteers …to the joy of a community …to the shared hugs and smiles …and last, but not least, to the “hohoho’s” of Santa who makes a brief visit to Springfield every year at the end of the parade…..we thank Springfield for its un-ending support all these years …we look forward to another 58 years of Springfield community spirit…..and more!






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