According to the National Association of Show Trucks, the event drew more than 100 trucks. One of those trucks was OOIDA’s big red Western Star on her maiden voyage for the association. The truck was driven by board member Woody Chambers, Hoffman Estates, IL, accompanied by his wife Paula. “Because this year’s parade was dedicated in honor of our own Ruth Jones, who passed away earlier this year, we were special guests, invited to follow Ruth’s husband Dee as he led the Parade of Lights,” said Paula Chambers. “What an honor!” The Road King Parade of Lights on Sept. 15 was dedicated earlier this summer to the memory of Jones, former OOIDA member and senior editor at Land Line Magazine. Jones succumbed to cancer June 8. She and her husband Dee had often exhibited a black and teal Freightliner called “Lost in the ’50s” owned by All Freight, Kansas City, KS. Dee and the truck led the parade across the Mackinac Straits Bridge. The Jones family was represented by daughters Stormi Davenport, Sandra Auldridge, Misti Ryan and one granddaughter, Bethany. Dee Jones was accompanied by OOIDA board member and officer, Bob Esler, an owner-operator from Taylor, MI, and Esler’s wife, Carole Lee. “As many years as I’ve been a trucker, I’ve never been so moved,” said Esler. “The people on the streets, hanging out of windows, gathered on every corner, all applauding the truckers – for being truckers. It was awesome.” Jones said he felt moved and incredibly honored to lead the parade that memorialized his wife and paid special tribute to the victims of Sept. 11’s events. “It was an overwhelming feeling of pride,” he said. Woody and Paula Chambers described the parade as an incredible moment in time. “As dusk fell in St. Ignace, we pulled out from our position on the main street, with thoughts of Ruth in our hearts and flags flying in honor of our recent terrorist tragedy,” says Paula. “As we approached the Mackinac Bridge the sun was in its last stages of setting. A line of more than 100 ‘lit up’ trucks slowly crept its way across this impressive bridge.” Paula said the request from the bridge authorities for drivers to refrain from using their horns in respect for the tragedy resulted in a period of silence that only added to the effect. As the parade progressed off the bridge into Michigan City, she told Land Line the crowds of people waiting grew larger. “Our route took us through a neat little town of attractive boulevards lined with trees lit by tiny lights. But, the shining moment was when we came around the corner onto a main street and there, creating an arch across the road with their ladders were two of the town’s fire department trucks. A huge American flag hung down from the center of the arch. I don’t believe there was a driver among us who was able to pass under that and not feel something very deep inside. As we were making our way slowly back across the bridge, we couldn’t help but to be overwhelmed with the reception we had received. The quiet on the bridge gave all of the drivers a time to reflect and take it all in. Then, to our delight, we were greeted with a new wave of enthusiasm as we made our way back through St. Ignace to our parking places. Her maiden voyage complete … a special trip for our Ruth, a special salute to America and a special moment as the truckdrivers of our nation were applauded.” According to Road King editor Bill Hudgins, more than $4,000 was raised to benefit relief efforts in New York.
–by Land Line staff