We love a parade! Last week, we paraded our trees through the nearby town of Sandy, Oregon. Our “float” in the evening parade that kicks off the annual Sandy Mountain Festival turned a lot of heads and brought looks of wonderment as our shiny white Freightliner semi towed our big, bright yellow bare root tree digger through town. Several thousand parade watchers learned that we’ve been “Growing Great Trees Since 1946,” and got an up-close view of the machine and some of the people who make it happen.
A dozen JFS employees and family members volunteered to ride and walk beside our entry, wearing red shirts that matched the banners hanging from the digger. They tossed many pounds of candy to parade watchers along the way and passed out our Trees Are the Answer bumper stickers.
Capably piloted through town by Zac Hall, our parade entry towered 14 feet about the street, leaving just a foot or so of clearance beneath the traffic signal wires along the way. Loaded on our 48-foot-long lowboy trailer, the float measured 60 feet from nose to taillights and caution flags.
Typically caked with mud throughout the winter digging season, the digger cleaned up real well for its parade debut. For those along the route who asked, “what the heck does that machine do?”, we suggested they check out the bare root digging videos on our YouTube channel. And for the sake of clarity, the 29,000 pound digger would not float anywhere other than in a parade!
Though it’s the big digger’s first-ever parade and first trip off the farm in many years, the trustworthy, hardworking machine has straddled thousands of miles of rows and uprooted millions of trees since we had it custom-fabricated in 1985. It’s one of 10 diggers (including our Front End Digger) that we use at our four bare root farms to dig more than a million dormant bare root trees each winter.
Sam Barkley, Cottrell Farm Manager and grandson of our founders, rode the float while riding herd on his son Sammy, a fourth generation JFS nurseryman in training. At least we hope we can keep him down on the farm – based on his skill and accuracy at throwing candy to people along the parade route, pro baseball may be in his future!
Big thanks to the Tree Team that made it happen: Sam Barkley and son Sammy, Hood Acres Farm Manager Aaron Caldwell, Hood Acres Maintenance worker Gaspar Hernandez and Journeyman Fabricator Miguel Corona Horta, Jay Lehl, Production/Inventory Coordinator Andy McReynolds and son, Jan Schmidt Barkley, Production Manager Assistant Chelsea Hall, Human Resources Manager Pam Evans, Avery Lehl and Driver Zac Hall, Fabrication Shop Foreman.
Communications Director Nancy Buley brought up the rear on her bicycle equipped with the best safety flag ever – a Flame Thrower® Redbud that dazzled the crowd with its fluttering, multi-colored, heart-shaped leaves.
A great time was had by all. See you next year at Sandy Mountain Festival 2024!