Go Here: Illuminating the Deschutes with Holiday Spirit | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Go Here: Illuminating the Deschutes with Holiday Spirit

Tumalo Creek Holiday Lights Paddle Parade takes over the water this weekend

Uniting the outdoor, active spirit of Bend with holiday cheer, the Tumalo Creek Holiday Lights Paddle Parade will brighten the water with battery-powered and solar-powered holiday lights, Christmas music and festive energy. Decked-out canoes, kayaks and paddle boats will parade up the Deschutes this Friday, Dec. 9 and are invited back to Tumalo Creek for a post-parade holiday party.

Fifteen years ago, it all started with a small crew of "friends of the shop" — loyal customers at Tumalo Creek who love paddling and celebrating the holidays. After a couple of years of the staff joining in on the night light paddles, this event has grown and grown.

Go Here: Illuminating the Deschutes with Holiday Spirit
Photo courtesy of Tumalo Creek
Paddlers dress up their canoes and kayaks with battery-powered Christmas lights and holiday decorations.

Now, this is a parade for everyone in Central Oregon. Whether you're joining in the paddle parade or watching from the Old Mill Bridge or alongside the river, it's one to not miss.

Launch time is between 4-4:30pm (around dusk) from the Tumalo Creek dock, located just outside its shop above the Bend Whitewater Park. As the sun sets and the spirited boats hit the water, the parade begins. Paddlers will paddle up the river to the Old Mill Bridge and take laps to keep the flow going.

No registration is needed to participate in the paddle parade, but participants are advised to come prepared. Tumalo Creek advises paddlers to show up early, wear a PFD and dress warm. Participants are encouraged to avoid using glitter, tinsel and items that could become micro-trash in their boat decorations — keeping the river clean, healthy and trash-free.

"Some people start showing up at 2 or 3 in the afternoon if they have really intricate decorations. We've had some pretty big ones these days," said Sue Fox, manager at Tumalo Creek.

Tying together boats, creating huge displays and bumping Christmas music on portable speakers, participants have gone big over the last two years. After the pandemic, Central Oregon came out in higher numbers with more spirit than ever seen before, according to Fox.

After the paddle, participants are invited to the shop for hot cocoa, cookies and drinks. Tumalo Creek connects with the community and like-minded water enthusiasts. The after-parade celebration is a space for the community to get to know each other.

"We have a culture at Tumalo Creek," Fox said. "We don't just sell paddling equipment to people. We befriend them. We talk story with them. It's getting to talk about what we all love: which is paddling."

Tumalo Creek Holiday Lights Paddle Parade
Friday, Dec. 9, 4-5pm
Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe
805 SW Industrial Way Suite 6, Bend

About The Author

Allie Noland

Allie graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in journalism and public relations. She loves writing articles that have anything to do with arts and entertainment. When she’s not writing, you can find her skiing, playing volleyball, backpacking, gardening and checking out local restaurants.
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