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Light it up: Transport For Christ's Parade of Lights is now a major event in Holmes and Wayne counties

A lineup of trucks approaching 300 in number rolled through Eastern Holmes County as part of Transport For Christ's annual Parade of Lights show on Friday, July 7.

Dave Mast

While it is well known for its plethora of buggies, Amish Country can officially count a new event as one of its big drawing cards, one that involves things not on four wooden wheels, but on 18 rubber ones.
 
The annual Transport For Christ Parade of Lights rolled through Southern Wayne County and Eastern Holmes County on Friday and Saturday, July 7-8, and a record number of trucks paved the way for a spectacular jaunt through East Holmes County on Friday night, which saw thousands of people lining the county’s byways to join in on this growing celebration.
 
A record 287 trucks participated in the annual trek through Holmes County, which began on County Road 77 at the Mt. Hope Auction Barn and traveled south to Bunker Hill, where the convoy merged on to U.S. Route 62 into Berlin. The journey then took the parade through Berlin on U.S. Route 39/62, rolled through town and headed north on County Road 201 to Fryburg before heading back to Mt. Hope via U.S. Route 241.
 
With the TFC truck leading the way along with a Holmes County Sheriff’s cruiser, the parade made a slow trek, much to the delight of the many who gathered to watch the spectacle.
 
While the lights from the trucks make a scintillating show as day turns into night and the orange, yellow and red glow of the lights makes for what is akin to a moving firework show on wheels, others gathered for the magnitude of the event.
 
The 287 trucks represent the most ever for the parade, easily topping the 252-truck previous high set last year.
 
“That was easily the most trucks we have had, and it seems to continue to grow in popularity year after year," said Gary Nussbaum, a local TFC pastor out of Dalton. “This thing has grown in ways that we never imagined it would, and hopefully we can keep up if it continues to get even larger.”
 
Truckers from all over the area and even beyond traveled to participate in the spectacle. Spectator Mark Miller said the lights were great, but he came to stimulate a very different sense.
 
“I like the sounds,” Miller said. “I like listening to the trucks as they go by.”
 
The evening was a thrill for just about all five senses, and the myriad of people who turned out to watch the show was bigger than it has ever been, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the drivers.
 
"Seeing that many people come out to watch and support us is awesome,” Nussbaum said. “It almost brought tears to my eyes seeing so many people along the route.”
 
While the parade is a big part of the weekend, there is more to it for the truckers than just driving their rigs to showcase to the crowd. Following the ride, they all united back at Mt. Hope Auction to enjoy some food and live music from local singer John Schmid.
 
There also was an auction in which donated items were auctioned off by auctioneer Steve Chupp. Nussbaum said the relationship with the local auctioneer is one that has added to the festival-like atmosphere at Mt. Hope.
 
“Steve has been great, and that is a partnership that we would love to see grow and blossom along with our parade,” Nussbaum said.
 
The auction brought in close to $11,000, and Nussbaum said all of the proceeds will go directly back into the TFC programs. TFC has numerous mobile chapels throughout the world, and the organization’s goal is to minister to drivers and help them build their faith.
 
Nussbaum said this year’s auction proceeds will be invested in creating a mobile chapel in some new locations including one in Brazil.
 
“It’s a wonderful site to put a chapel because it is right on a major port, and traffic is backed up there, sometimes for days,” Nussbaum said. “It gives us a better chance to build relationships with drivers.”
 
He added that the donations for this year’s auction were incredible, calling the effort from the local community “a beautiful response to [their] mission.”
 
He went on to say that while they know not every driver will want to stop in at a chapel and that many choose not to, when they do make a connection with even a single driver, it makes all of the work worth it.
 
“You hope and pray to make an impact along the way,” Nussbaum said. “All we can do is say to God, ‘Here we are. Bring us a driver in need.’ We just want to make an impact one truck driver at a time.”
 
While the Amish Country parade continues to grow, Nussbaum said they will work hard to make sure it remains rooted in faith as local truckers unite.
 
He noted that as they grow, there becomes a greater need for volunteers to help work at the event. There is, however, a small problem with that.
 
“Everyone wants to see the show,” Nussbaum said with a laugh. “But we do appreciate the volunteers we have, and we are always looking for more.”
 
For more photos from the event, visit the Holmes Bargain Hunter Facebook page.
 

Published: July 12, 2017
New Article ID: 2017170719983