The rumble of the engines and blasting of air horns can be heard from kilometres away.
It’s a sign that Christmas is drawing near when the Island Equipment Owners Association stages its Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive. The 16th annual event, happening this Saturday (Dec. 6), will once again spread holiday cheer throughout Victoria and the West Shore.
“It’s amazing how much work goes into (the trucks). It’s almost like rolling artwork,” says Laura Brewer, manager of the association.
Eighty trucks, spanning 10 city blocks, travel in a convoy starting at 5:45 p.m. from the parking lot at Ogden Point. The resplendent vehicles will make their way through Oak Bay Village, head downtown along Yates Street, then curl around on Blanshard then Belleville streets to come north up Government Street. They’ll hook up with Douglas Street at Gorge Road, head out the highway for a loop around Victoria General Hospital, and come along Island Highway and Goldstream Avenue, before heading down Veteran’s Memorial Parkway to their final destination, Western Speedway. The ETA there is about 8:30 p.m. with Santa on board and lights aglow.
Working with local businesses, the association is collecting donations for regional food drives now until Thursday (Dec. 4) and will be collecting non-perishable items at specific spots along the parade route.
“We have designated spots that are set up the night of the convoy and we have a number of sites set up that are collecting food (now),” says Brewer, adding that the convoy is not able to accept donations other than at the setup sites. “It’s just a matter of safety. The trucks are moving and they’re going at a good pace.”
The event has brought in more than 134,000 pounds of food for local food banks since its first year, with View Royal, Colwood and Langford donations going to the West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund Society.
This is also the first time that the route has been altered since its beginning. Brewer says it was after lengthy conversations with police that the decision was made to have the trucks turn south onto Blanshard Street instead of Douglas Street this year.
“You have to do what you can to alleviate the traffic,” she said. “It’s only a block either way and the trucks still come out on Government Street.”
Once the trucks finish their rounds and are parked around the race track at Western Speedway, everyone is welcome to attend the wind-up and enjoy coffee, hot dogs and hot chocolate, as well as meet the drivers and get a closer peek at the decorations.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie in this as well,” Brewer says. “And it’s an opportunity for the public to check out the trucks up close.”
It’s a community effort, with dozens of businesses and regional partners committing to making the night successful, she says.
“Without 80 companies stepping forward and investing a considerable amount of time and resources, the trucks would be parked and there would be a terrible loss to the food banks.”
For a detailed list of food bank donation drop-off sites and other information visit ieoa.ca.