Parade of Lights set to roll

EMPLOYEES AND FAMILIES decorate the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. float Thursday. About 60 employees and family members will ride the float Saturday in the Parade of Lights downtown.


26th annual

Parade of Lights

• When: 5 p.m. Saturday

• Where: On Main Street, between Eighth and First streets.

• Dress warm: Temperature expected to be in upper-20s.

• Theme: Toyland.

Worth knowing

• 101 entries, up from 85 entries last year.

• It will take more than two hours to watch from start to finish.

• Free parking is available in the downtown parking garage on Rood Avenue. Parking may be tight because of a sold-out concert at the Avalon Theatre.

• Local organizations will sell parade treats such as hot chocolate and other snacks.

Look past the blinking, multicolored Christmas lights and the giant blow-up can on the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. float at the Parade of Lights on Saturday, and you will see employees and families who made the elaborate parade entry possible.

They started decorating the 48-foot trailer Thursday afternoon in the company warehouse, blowing up Pepsi nutcrackers and hanging more than 80 strings of lights.

“The theme of our float is ‘From our Pepsi family to yours: Happy Holidays,’” said Wendy Likes, administrative assistant for the company.

Likes explained that although the Pepsi brand is well-known, people can forget that there are local residents behind the big name.

“Even though we’re a big company, we’re a place with families and kids,” Likes said.

More than half of the 60 people scheduled to ride on the float will be the children and grandchildren of Pepsi employees. “They’re really psyched,” Likes said of the children’s growing excitement for Saturday night.

Each person wanting to ride on the float donates a can of food, which will be given to a local food bank, Likes said.

Take a closer look, and you’ll notice that each person on the float will be wearing a red heart. That heart represents the recent loss of one member of the Pepsi family.

“Our regional sales manager lost his son, Mikeal Olson, to sudden heart failure this week, and we are wearing the hearts in his memory,” Likes said.

Kathie Iles, the parade coordinator, said bringing together the families of the community is what the parade is all about.

“I just love the atmosphere and how happy everybody is,” Iles said.

She will try to stagger the floats so music among floats doesn’t conflict, dancers have plenty of space, and bands don’t all march at once.

She also said Santa has never missed a Parade of Lights in Grand Junction.

“He’s always shown up.”


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