Many would say Jordan Dazzle — the parade and light show in downtown Jordan — marks the start of the holiday season in town — and it all starts with the lights in Pekarna Park. In recent years, members of the Pekarna family have made it a tradition to decorate the park that sits across the street from their 126-year-old family-owned meat market.
“It’s a park that was donated by the Pekarnas, so they kind of have a sentimental interest,” City Administrator Tom Nikunen said. “You can go out there and see the whole family decorating.”
Nikunen said that it’s actions like these, where community members contribute in different ways, that make Jordan Dazzle a special town event. The Pekarnas decorate the park, the Jordan Commercial Club buys lights, the Chamber of Commerce used to organize the parade, the late Dick Ames lent his world-class draft horses to pull Santa’s sleigh, others design fliers and make Facebook posts, Jordan High School singers provide caroling music and Nikunen, along with others, help stage floats by the fire hall.
“The parade goes off without a hitch with a lot of different people helping out,” Nikunen said.
But it wasn’t always that way. It’s surprising the event has turned out to be as popular as it is, considering the first parade in 2013 never happened.
“We cancelled the whole event because it was 20 or 30 below zero,” Nikunen said.
Long before the inaugural 2014 parade, Public Works Director Dave Bendzick decorated Pekarna Park every year, where the Commercial Club sponsored an annual tree lighting in late November. The Jordan Chamber of Commerce approached the Commercial Club about seven years ago and asked if they would move the lighting to December to coincide with a new winter parade. The Commercial Club agreed and Jordan Dazzle was born.
Like any small town, the Chamber of Commerce and Commercial Club had a lot of crossover between members, so when the chamber heavily scaled back operations a couple years ago, the Commercial Club became the primary sponsor of the parade.
“It was pretty seamless to move it over,” Nikunen said.
To this day, the parade brings out the best in local businesses, organizations and city departments, as they participate by decorating floats and vehicles with thousands of bright Christmas lights and celebrate the holiday spirit.
“The fire department always does a good job,” Nikunen said. “The bus company, Benjamin Bus, does a great job every year.”
Public Works Director Scott Haas decorates a loader that usually hauls the city council, along with Nikunen (dressed as the Grinch) in the bucket.
This year organizers are working to draw more food trucks to the event and close down Water Street between Highway 21 and the railroad tracks. Nikunen said The Weenie Wagon and Smashed food trucks are already planning on attending the event, as long as weather cooperates. In past years, some local churches, organizations and businesses have provided food as well.
“We’re trying to have that prior to the parade, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., to get more families there before the parade,” Nikunen said.
Last year the parade drew a large crowd and featured about 20 floats despite blizzard-like weather.
“It’s a really great family fun event,” Nikunen said. “We get a nice following of people on Water Street and fill up that parade route. People like parades and they really like a winter parade.”
“I think the lights have a lot to do with it. Kids love it so parents don’t mind bringing them down to it,” said Jayme Olsen, a member of the Pekarna family and a city employee who helps organize the event.
Jordan Dazzle 2019
The sixth annual Jordan Dazzle Parade will take place Saturday, Dec. 7 in downtown Jordan. Food vendors will begin serving at 5 p.m., with caroling from the Jordan High School Chamber Singers starting at 5:30 p.m. The parade begins at 6 p.m.
Organizers expect 25-30 well-lit floats this year. The parade route starts on Varner Street at the Jordan Fire Department, then turns onto Water Street followed by Rice Street and concludes at the Mini-Met. Immediately following the parade there will be a tree lighting in Pekarna Park, more caroling and a special visit by Santa Clause. The red mailbox will return to Pekarna Park during Jordan Dazzle through Dec. 20. During this period, children are encouraged to drop their letters to Santa in the mailbox. Letters will be drawn on Dec. 20 for prizes.
For more information about Jordan Dazzle, contact JordanCommercialClub@gmail.com.