Crowds lined the streets around the corner of Goldstream Avenue and Island Highway in Colwood last year for the annual IEOA Truck Light Convoy.

Annual lighted truck convoy hits the streets Saturday

Thousands of pounds of food expected to be collected with this annual holiday tradition

While some would consider it an unusual sight, others just associate big rigs done up with hundreds of little twinkle lights with the holiday season.

The 2016 Island Equipment Owners Association’s Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive will see trucks from across the region rumble along Greater Victoria streets from Ogden Point in Victoria to Western Speedway in Langford this Saturday (Dec. 3), raising funds and collecting food donations along the way for local food banks.

It’s been 18 years since the Island Equipment Owners Association officially took over organizing the event, and association manager Laura Brewer has seen the event grow into something really special. Now in her last year helping officially organizing the event – she retires at the end of December after 22 years with the IEOA – she’s handing the reins over to her replacement, Wendy Watt.

Both women took a moment out of their busy schedule to talk about the big event.

It had a modest start, Brewer said, with a local business owner gathering a few friends and decorating their trucks to park outside of grocery stores to collect food. More friends got involved and the event grew from roughly half a dozen participants to more than 40 in three years. That’s when the IEOA was asked to step in.

Now with a cap of 80 trucks, the event has reached capacity every year of late, and Watt noted they often have a waiting list for businesses that want to participate.

As part of its route, the convoy makes a special circuit around Victoria General Hospital so patients young and young at heart can enjoy the festive display. Brewer noted the pediatric ward is at the rear of the hospital and offers the best view.

The event raises between 6,500 to 10,000 pounds of food, which is distributed to food banks across the region. During the past 17 years, roughly 148,000 pounds of food has been collected – “and that’s what we know about,” Watt said.

Brewer said the association gets a number of calls every year from convoy watchers who didn’t realize it was a food drive at the time and want to contribute items. “There’s probably a significant amount that comes in after the fact,” she said, noting those callers are directed to local food banks. But “the whole thing hinges on the weather,” Brewer said, adding donations can be down when the weather is miserable.

While organizers prefer that participating trucks are in industries relating to the IEOA, the only real criteria is that at least 50 per cent of the vehicle must be decorated. Watt noted owners and drivers go all out with lights,  inflatables, sound systems and other decorations. “All the participants do it on their own, with their own time and money,” she added, “often taking a day or two off work without pay.”

Route runs through various municipalities

The convoy departs from the parking lot at Ogden Point at 5:45 p.m. and weaves through Oak Bay, Victoria and Saanich before entering View Royal at roughly 7:30, passing through Colwood and Langford and winding up at Western Speedway at 8:30 p.m.

Since trucks are moving, they will not be able to collect donations. A number of different groups and business will be out the night of the convoy collecting non-perishable food items at locations along the route.

The View Royal Fire department will be out with one of their fire trucks collecting donations at Helmcken Road and Watkiss Way. Also in View Royal, Quality Foods at Eagle Creek Village will be offering hot chocolate by donation and the Salvation Army will be on site to collect cash and non-perishable food donations. The View Royal Casino, at 1707 Island Hwy., will also have food collection boxes just inside their front doors, but please note you must by 19 years of age to enter the casino.

Across the road on Island Highway, Serious Coffee will also be collecting donations, while Colwood Fire Rescue will accept items outside the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre and near Sands Funeral Chapel on Goldstream Avenue. Look for their white tents and the Colwood Fire department pickup truck. The Emery Electric truck will also be parked at Colwood Corners.

Further down Goldstream Avenue, Langford Fire Rescue will be collecting food in Veterans Memorial Park, coinciding with the City’s official light up celebrations. On the other side of the Trans Canada Highway, Serious Coffee at Millstream Village and Co-operators Insurance on Millstream Road will also be collecting items.

The convoy finishes at Western Speedway, where admission is by cash or non-perishable food donation. Hot dogs and hot chocolate will be available by donation and Santa will arrive at around 8:30 p.m. in one of the trucks to greet everyone at this final stop.

For more information on the event and the IEOA, visit ieoa.ca.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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