By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester will celebrate the holidays with the arrival of Santa and thousands of bright, moving lights.
Continuing a tradition started five years ago, the annual Holiday Lights Parade heralds in the season the evening of Dec. 6 with more than 30 entries in or on cars, golf carts, campers, trucks and floats.
The only rule? If you can drive it and light it, you can be in the parade, along with a $5 donation to the Brockstrong Foundation.
“The original parade only had 10 participants with one of them our Grand Marshal Brock Johnson,” said organizer Jill Amos. “The other was our sponsor for the last five years, The Goddard School. Because of the sponsorship of the Goddard School, 100 percent of the donations we receive go to the BSF organization. One of our favorite participants every year is the Canal Winchester school bus. Chris Dosch who was a longtime resident and teacher in Canal Winchester, comes back to ride the bus in memory of Eleanor and Louisa Mosley.”
The bus is covered in lights and is filled with Canal Winchester students. In second year of the parade, the Canal Winchester High School band, a crowd favorite, joined the line-up with music and a float.
“The parade started in 2014 when Beth Deeds came to me and said what do you think about hosting a holiday lights parade?” recalled Amos. “That day, Beth, Rick (Deeds) and I sat down and started planning a parade.”
According to Amos, Brock was the first and only grand marshal to lead the parade because “he always brought light to so many people in our community.”
Brock was hospitalized the week of the first parade and the family was doing their best to get him released for the day, which happened at the last minute. Parade organizers borrowed a Chevy Camaro from Jeff Wyler Chevrolet—per Brock’s request—to transport the young boy down the parade route.
“It was raining that night, so we could not even put the top down. He and his mom waved to people along the parade route through the window,” said Amos. “Since it was the first year, there was hardly anyone along the parade route, but as soon as we turned the corner, there were people everywhere. We let Brock and Kristi out at the Christmas Tree where Brock and Mayor Ebert lit the lights to kick off Christmas in the Village. It was a moment many of us will never forget. That night, Brock returned to the hospital. He passed away on May 20, 2015.”
It was after the funeral that organizers decided Brock would remain the permanent grand marshal of the parade.
“There are so many people that line the roads now to see the parade along the route and still when we round the corner onto High Street and thousands of people line the sidewalk, my eyes fill with tears knowing that Brock is right beside me in spirit, still waving and still smiling,” Amos said.
Amos added there is always a little rivalry for trophies, including competitors such as Columbus Street and Trine Street vying for Street Winner Honor. Four streets have already signed up and organizers welcome people to join the challenge.
The parade line-up location is the Winchester Trail Elementary School parking lot, 6865 Gender Road. Parade line-up time starts at 4:30 p.m. Best float voting time is at 5 p.m. The parade starts at 5:30 p.m.
Visit www.cwholidaylightsparade.com for information.