Sasquatch makes an appearance at last weekend's Oldest & Coldest parade in Springfield. ERIN TIERNEY/ THE CHRONICLE

We’re not sure if Santa belongs to a gym, practices crossfit, or is on a Keto diet, but he no doubt lost weight taking his star turn in parades across the southern Willamette Valley on Saturday, Dec. 4. Communities from Springfield to Creswell to Cottage Grove played host to all manner of holiday celebrations that started with a sunny morning and ended with cool, damp weather.

Hours before the parade started in Springfield, there were all of the familiar sights indicating residents were eager for the communal, holiday experience, as lawn chairs and football-like tailgating tents and barbecues sprang up along sidewalks and overtook parking lots along the route. 

Shelly Carlton has lived in the Eugene-area “around 40 years,” she said, and it was her first “Oldest & Coldest” parade in Springfield.  

Area Girl Scouts hand out sweet treats to parade viewers in Springfield. ERIN TIERNEY/ THE CHRONICLE

“We came because our friends have come every year,” Carlton said, noting that two of her grandsons were walking in the parade with their youth league baseball teams. “We’re excited to see them.” 

Besides her friend, Carlton was joined by her daughter Ashley, two granddaughters – Ellie, 9, and Zoey, 15 – and her poodle, Sheldon Cooper. “He’s decked out for the parade,” pointing to his monogrammed neckerchief.

There were similar scenes throughout Creswell, where an all-day market on East Oregon Ave. featured a variety of vendors, food, and crafts for children. A parade with Santa, and music from the Creswell Community Singers, Tuba Ensemble, and Creswell High School band were among activities downtown. The Grange conducted its annual Christmas tree silent auction, with cookies and cocoa. 

Creswell Cub Scouts at last weekend's holiday events in Creswell. RON HARTMAN/ THE CHRONICLE

Creswell’s Cub Scout Pack 28 was well-represented. 

“Actually, this is our first time here,” Pack leader Payton Wayne said, “but we’re carrying on a tradition that’s been going on for quite some time.” 

When asked what his favorite part of the parade was, Westyn Wayne said without hesitating: “The marching!”

CHS Band outside of Creswell Library.

The Creswell Chamber of Commerce organized the events.

Cottage Grove residents and visitors from throughout the area flocked to activities throughout the day. “Whew, we had thousands and thousands of people,” noted Shauna Neigh, CEO of the Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce. The Grove’s activities culminated at Bohemia Park with a Christmas tree raffle and Boy Scout Troop #140 cutting and selling trees.

Meanwhile, Rick and Keri Caswell, Springfield natives who have been attending the parade for the past eight years, were sitting under a tent near Main and 10th streets. It’s “their” spot each year. “There wasn’t anybody else here until around 11:30 a.m.,” Rick said. 

They were grateful for the more seasonable weather. “I remember the last time we came. It was really chilly years ago.”

Keri said she walked in the parade with her brothers as children. “They were in the Scouts, and I joined them.”

Two of their kids, Taylor, 6, and Sydney, 3, were positioning themselves for the best viewing position. “They have an 11-year-old brother here, too, but he’s in the truck playing video games and staying warm for now,” Rick said.

RON HARTMAN/CHRONICLE PHOTOThe Creswell High School Equestrian Team was raising money for its team by selling mistletoe at their booth during Creswell’s Winter Lights events. Team members, from left to right, Alyssa Perez (8th grade), Alyssa Jungling (8th), Lexi Scott (7th, younger sister of Emily), and Haylee Fox (10th). The equestrian team typically has three meets each year – during February, March and April. RON HARTMAN/THE CHRONICLE

Kelly West sat on her chair along Main Street in Springfield, with Lithia Toyota’s lot behind her. She had staked out a spot with her two grandchildren. “They love all the candy and freebies; they get as much candy from this parade as they do on Halloween. See the empty bags we brought?” she said, pointing to a stash of grocery-store reusable bags.

The Springfield law enforcement community made sure the 8- and 6-year-old girls wouldn’t be disappointed, tossing goodies throughout the route.

West said she appreciates the effort put into organizing and planning the parade.

“It has a lot of things and they just love the whole thing. They really love the Coca-Cola polar bears.”

She said she was looking forward to the event, too. “We need it, yes. The community just needs a morale boost. Last year, it was very disappointing,” under Covid conditions. “I didn’t even bother. But, right now this year, it’s like we’ve all been pumped up.”

Cottage Grove’s special event at Bohemia Park ended with the lighting of the Christmas tree. DANA MERRYDAY/THE CHRONICLE

A group of around a dozen people were set up and partying in front of the Springfield Utility Board building near Main St. and 10th. Besides two tents, there was a large gas barbecue grill, a charcoal grill, a fire pit, and plenty of sides and fixings. The employees – including several who said they live in Creswell and Pleasant Hill – said they’ve been coming to the parade for “at least the past 10 years.”