|Clark ‘Griswold’ Jahn. Submitted photo.|
This season would have been Clark ‘Griswold’ Jahn’s 20th time driving his Rudolph-themed truck down 1st Avenue for Mission’s annual Candlelight Parade. But when the pandemic forced its cancellation, he set out to start a new tradition of his own.
“We really have to end this year with a happier note. We’ve got to keep the Christmas spirit alive,” Jahn said. “The love and compassion I’ve been getting from [the community] over these past nights, it’s just so unbelievable and overwhelming.”
For the past three nights, Jahn and a group of fellow 4x4ers have been slowly driving around Mission in a festive fleet of off-road vehicles adorned with Christmas lights and decorations. The group decided to begin the “Light up the Night Christmas Parade” after the organizers of the Candlelight Parade were forced to cancel, and replace it with a virtual version, Jahn said.
The first night they only had five vehicles, but by the second night their fleet had doubled and 16 vehicles participated last night (Dec. 9).
Jahn knows three more will join their ranks tonight. Friday is the event’s final night.
“I tell you the joy and everything I’ve been getting bringing it to the kids … It feels amazing,” he said. “It’s been really well received.”
Jahn said their planned-out routes start at 7 p.m., and for around an hour they slowly cruise around town yelling Merry Christmas, honking their horns and playing Christmas tunes.
|The Christmas fleet’s Thursday route is highlighted on the right in green, and the Friday route is on the far right in orange.|
Missionites will hear the “Awoooga” from Jahn’s horn first (as Rudolph always leads the pack), followed by music and honking from the rest of the fleet.
“Unfortunately, we can’t come down everyone’s street, we don’t have the time,” he said. “If you can, just get your family in the vehicle and watch us drive by and honk and flash your lights.”
He said this event feels special because it’s completely non-commercialized. Many people on social media have wanted to make donations to them, but Jahn said they won’t accept anything because that’s not what its about. He said he would rather see donations go to the Christmas Bureau or the food bank.
The fleet doesn’t stop or get out of their vehicles, and everyone is wearing a mask, Jahn said, adding the event is strictly for Mission and he doesn’t want people coming from outside of town.
“This is for us, the locals, for Mission, just to say how much I love Mission and how much the other people involved love Mission.”