The holiday season is shifting into high gear.
The annual Truck Light Parade and Food Drive is back to illuminate Greater Victoria’s streets this Saturday, Dec. 3, when commercial vehicles decorated in festive lights roll from James Bay to the West Shore starting at 5:40 p.m.
“We’re full with 80 trucks,” said Wendy Watt, manager of the Island Equipment Owners Association (IEOA), which organizes the convoy.
“It’s very exciting,” said Watt.
“The truck drivers, especially, this is how they can give back to the community. They all work hard, long days, and this is their way of giving back and showing their holiday spirit.”
The 35-kilometre-long route stretches the Breakwater, east along Dallas Road and through Oak Bay, before turning left onto Fort Street, right onto Yates Street, left onto Blanshard Street and right onto Belleville Street.
Foot on the gas pedal, the convoy will then travel north along Douglas Street through downtown Victoria before taking the highway and rolling into Langford, with a final stop at Bear Mountain Parkway around 8:30 p.m.
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Watt says the truck parade, now in its 23rd year, has been a big hit year after year and helps usher in the holiday season, especially for the children in attendance.
“There’s a lot of excitement. Kids of all ages love to see the trucks, and there are lots of lights and sounds and music. The decorations are just amazing. It’s a fun way for the community to get together and participate however they can. It’s also just a chance to be together,” she said.
While the event wasn’t always so grand, its backstory is inspiring, according to Watt in an interview with CHEK News.
“It actually started with just a single dump truck driver and his truck touting around Langford. He would decorate it and drive around to collect food donations,” she recalled, speaking about Nirmal Johal, president of Nan Site Servicing Ltd.
“The next year, a few more joined, and all of a sudden, they were up to 40 trucks. So they needed a formal escort and they made it a community event, and then it evolved into the IEOA leading the organization of it.”
When COVID-19 pandemic restrictions put the breaks on things two years ago, organizers off-roaded and, thankfully, the community spirit was still alive — which is most important, considering the event is all for a good cause.
“It was cancelled one year and we did a drive-thru food drive with the Greater Victoria Festival Society for that year, so it morphed into something different in 2020,” explained Watt.
This Saturday, volunteers in multiple municipalities along the parade route will be collecting donations for non-profits, including The Mustard Seed Street Church, the Goldstream Foodbank, and the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank.
During the truck parade, food donations will start to accumulate at Oak Bay Municipal Hall, the Sands Reception Centre in Colwood, and Langford’s Light-Up event at Veterans Memorial Park, according to parade organizers.
Firefighters from the View Royal Fire Department will simultaneously be at Helmcken Road at Watkiss Way collecting donations, while crews from the Colwood Fire Department will be at Westshore Recreation Centre.
“Because we’re rolling, it’s not an easy way to get food onto the trucks. So a few of the neighbourhoods have community events in their area. So we drive past those community events,” added Watt.
Monetary donations to the non-profits can also be made online, with more details about the parade found on the IEOA’s website here.