Tualatin Holds First-Ever Holiday Lights Parade

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Tualatin residents had the opportunity to decorate their own cars in this parade. (HENRY KAUS/TUALATIN LIFE)

Red and blue lit the streets; sirens blaring in the distance. Is someone in trouble with the police? No! It’s Tualatin’s first-ever Holiday Lights Parade.

Through December, the City of Tualatin invited residents to decorate their cars in holiday spirit, embellish everything with festive lights and tour Tualatin neighborhoods on designated parade routes.

With a year full of canceled events, including Starry Nights and Holiday Lights at the Tualatin Commons, City staff still found a way to celebrate the holidays, albeit at a distance. They took inspiration from other Oregon cities that have put together holiday lights parades in the past, and with much success.

The City of North Plains, for example, has been holding their annual “Jingle thru North Plains” parade for 17 years. This event even includes a panel of judges that examines all types of vehicles decorated in holiday lights.

To make this type of event happen in Tualatin, the City offered free car-lighting kits, including both an AC adapter and a string of LEDs, to any willing parade participant.

However, this wasn’t a one-day event. Parades were held on three consecutive December Saturday nights, all in different neighborhoods. 

The first took place on Dec. 5 and started from Atfalati Park and traveled up to Browns Ferry Park. Another on Dec. 12, proceeded from the Ibach Park area surrounding Tualatin Elementary School. The last, held on Dec. 19, started from the Tualatin Police Department and progressed through nearby neighborhoods to Jurgens Park.

Dozens of residents signed up for each day and were even accompanied by Tualatin Mayor Frank Bubenik, two Tualatin police motorcycle units, three police vehicles, one Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue fire engine, multiple City vehicles, a bucket truck and a sewer cleaner vacuum truck.

The experience, of course, was as festive as possible. Holiday music blasted through the streets and holiday blessings were exchanged with participants and parade watchers out on street corners through the night.

Children attended along with their families at this first-time event.

“It was amazing! My kids absolutely loved it … they got to be in our covered garage as they drove through and waved to all the cool-looking cars. It just made our night,” one Tualatin Life Facebook commenter wrote.

The funding for the event was made possible by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security – or CARES – Act through the Mental Health & Community Psyche program. The program aims to help communities of Washington County during the pandemic, which includes replacing canceled events with COVID-19-friendly alternatives.

Tualatin’s first Holiday Lights Parade won’t be the only new event to come. The City is planning various activities through the end of the grant period in March.