Texas has a rich history filled with beloved traditions. Friday night high school football, fall bonfires, and annual chili cookoffs are just some of the things Texans really get into. We also get into the usual holiday activities: Christmas Tree Farm, going crazy with our home decor with Christmas lights and wreaths with plaid ribbon, Christmas gifts for friends and family etc. Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like getting into the festive activities of the season.
One thing you might not have heard of is the mostly small-town custom of pickup parades. Now, you probably knew about the world-record breaking pickup parade in Arlington. That's not what this is. Christmas pickup parades are much shorter, and far more interesting. Nothing looks quite like the holiday season until you've seen a truck decked out with Christmas decorations.
If you've never seen a pickup parade, here's the gist. Every year at Christmas time, communities all over Texas deck out their vintage trucks and classic cars in festive holiday style (similar to your Christmas tree) and drive them down main street. Lights are a popular decoration, as well as wreaths, Christmas ornaments, garlands of tinsel, and even full-sized nativity scenes. It's the ultimate DIY challenge where you can get really creative with your holiday decor. Christmas signs, a snowman, pine tree, whatever! Just add it to your pickup truck and it will be instant country Christmas cheer.
Pickup parades may be a popular event in the small towns, but they do also make appearances in large towns and big city parades. Even Lubbock's Christmas parade features classic cars and vintage Christmas trucks. Even though it's a standard parade with floats, the christmas cars and holiday trucks all decked out with Christmas tree ornaments are a big part of the show.
In Bellville they host an annual "Pickup Parade" where the entry fees go toward keeping the town's Christmas lights up all season.
A little further West, in San Marcos, the local Christmas celebration is known as "Sights and Sounds". One part of that celebration is the classic car parade put on by Dick's Classic Garage. Decorated classic trucks and cars drive in parade formation and even Santa and Mrs. Claus show up! One year they rode in a classic convertible Caddy. Santa in the truck bed of a vintage red Christmas truck is a fun play on his signature sleigh for the parade. Especially if its a Christmas red truck.
Up north, it's no different. The Parade of Lights in Fort Worth is also usually stocked with antique cars and trucks that have donned their holiday apparel, to the delight of cowtown residents.
The Christmas parade in the South Texas town of Victoria also features some lighted trucks each year. Every year Johnson City hosts the annual Lighted Hooves and Wheels Parade, where you can see some pretty merry and bright trucks.
So whether or not you realized it, Christmas trucks are actually a pretty important Texas tradition. They can be found up north, down south and pretty much everywhere in between. You can see new trucks, and classic trucks, but most of all, you can see the Christmas spirit of Texas.
This story previously ran in Nov. 2019.