SUNNYSIDE — Since attending his first Lighted Farm Implement Parade more than six years ago, Holt Morris dreamed of having his own entry in the iconic parade.
Saturday night, he and wife Jodi (Hoctor) and children Palmer, 4 and Clay, 18 months old, rode through the parade route showing off the couple’s Horse Heaven Crane Service’s 150-ton crane, covered in more than 8,000 lights secured to the metal housing with the “toughest tape we could find,” Morris noted.
Morris joined more than 75 entries in the 31st annual Sunnyside Lighted Farm Implement Parade. Local business Cliff’s Septic Company took Sweepstakes honors in their 31st year in the parade. J&K Dairy earned the Ervin Kilian Memorial Award, given in memory of longtime parade founder and supporter, Ervin Kilian.
“The whole event is just magical,” Morris said.
“Riding in the parade gives you such a different perspective from watching it on the side lines. You could see the kids’ faces light up and mouthing the word ‘Wow!’ It was awesome,” he declared.
The crane service was one of more than 75 entries in this year’s event, said Sunnyside Noon Rotary Parade organizer Brittan Moore. “We have 12 late entries.”
Parade organizers estimated 25,000 parade-goers lined the East Edison parade route finding many ways to stay dry on the drizzly evening. The crowds set up canopies, huddled under umbrellas or stayed in their cars, while others set up portable firepits to stay warm and roast marshmallows.
Others, like Retired Sunnyside Fire Chief Gary Cole and wife, Dantha also a city retiree, were keep dry in their RV filled with children and grandchildren parked on an Edison Street corner. It’s a family tradition according to Cole.
“I spent a couple of years watching the parade in the rain, and told myself I could do better,” said Cole.
From Sunnyside’s corners and streets and throughout the lower valley, holiday cheer, family events and Santa sightings were widespread.
Santa’s elf, Dan Chavez, was spotted at the Saturday, 10 a.m., opening bell at the Sunnyside Community Center, taking Christmas wishes from local children. The night prior, Astria Health hosted its annual foundation fundraiser, the Festival of Trees in luxurious style to a full house at the same location.
Crowds flooded the first Christmas Market on Saturday afternoon at Centennial Square. Despite the rainy afternoon, the shoppers visited the more than 15 vendors and stood in line for photos with Disney’s Frozen’s Elsa and Anna characters. There was food available everywhere, including the annual Volunteer Firemen Chili feed held to raise money for the volunteer association fund. The VFW chili-cook-off opened following the parade to give parade-goers a little warm-up.
“We had a wonderful reception to the Christmas Market, and we are already making plans for next year’s event,” Market Event Organizer Lindsee Curfman declared.
The entertainment, including the American Honey and, who played up until the start of the parade were a huge hit,” she added.