In light of a nation
thrown into crisis, it must have been a tough decision to continue with plans
to host the Sixth Annual Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show in St. Ignace,
MI, but the show was held this past weekend as scheduled.
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, accompanied by his wife
Paula, of Hoffman Estates, IL. "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 Saturday night 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 grand-daughter, Bethany.
So Dee Jones could better
witness the event, OOIDA board member and officer, Bob Esler, an owner-operator
from Taylor, MI, reported he was behind the wheel of Jones' company-owned
Freightliner. "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." Esler was accompanied to St. Ignace by his
wife, Carol Lee.
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 Mackinaw 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 of the bridge into Michigan City,
she told Land Line that 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 that 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.