A tractor decorated with 110,000 Christmas lights steals a little bit of Santa’s thunder every time out.
Rocky Mountain House’s Pidherney’s Trucking snagged the Santa Claus Parade People’s Choice award for its brightly lit tractor pulling a sleigh of reindeer in Red Deer last weekend.
“It’s very hard to imagine how bright it is and what it’s going to look like before you start it up,” said Mick Gibb, decorating organizer and Pidherney’s service co-ordinator. “But every time we start it up, it turns people’s heads. They are like, ‘Wow,’ especially the kids. That’s why I like driving it.”
Staff at the trucking company have entered the popular festive vehicle in Rocky parades since 2008. Because of its popularity, they entered it into parades in other communities in ensuing years, including Red Deer, Sylvan Lake, Olds, Drayton Valley and Lacombe.
This was the second year the tractor adorned with thousands of lights was in Red Deer’s parade and its first year with the sleigh.
Gibb said the company decided to get into Christmas parade decorating after the owner saw vehicles and machines decorated with thousands of lights in a parade in the United States.
He encouraged his staff to do the same thing — but better.
The first year, the team of designers, welders and light gluers started with 60,000 lights. They screwed and glued the lights into chicken wire attached to wooden panels bolted onto the tractor.
In the ensuing years, they added lights to the blade (20,000) and this year, a sleigh (20,000), bringing the light tally to 110,000.
The first year it took them about two months to decorate the vehicle, which included designing panels, bolting the panel to the vehicle and gluing the lights.
This year, it took about three days to glue the lights and add the panels and 10 days to build the sleigh out of an old utility trailer.
The lights are powered by a generator in the back of the trailer and another in the tractor. Each panel has its own breaker and circuit board.
The tractor will make appearances at parades in Olds (on Saturday), Lacombe (Thursday, Nov. 29), Sylvan Lake (Friday, Nov. 30) and Rocky (Saturday, Dec. 1).
After parade season, the panels come down, the tractor is serviced and goes back to work in the spring.