MARQUETTE — Spreading Christmas cheer around the community is a lot easier in a vehicle.
For the last three years, Jason Holcom and family have decorated Holcom’s 1949 REO Speedwagon with lights and paraded the “Christmas Truck” around Marquette and Lindsborg. The iconic vehicle is rare enough on its own, but the addition of lights, a Christmas tree and speakers playing carols have turned the truck into a source of cheer and photo opportunities.
“It’s 95 percent for the kids. It’s mostly for them, but adults still love it too. We see college kids fly by us on the road, so we’re thinking ‘You idiots,’ but come to find out they got down the street to video us coming up the street,” Holcom laughed. “We get a lot of pictures taken of it. You won’t see another one that nice. You won’t hardly ever see one like that anyway — it’s a very rare truck.”
Over the past few years, the truck has grown in popularity and become an unofficial staple of the community during Christmastime.
“We get more and more people asking us to come by and stop at their house. This last Friday, we had a request to bring it to the high school for the basketball game. When the game got out, we handed out candy canes to all the kids,” Holcom said. “This year, it’s been a big hit as well. There’s even a guy in Lindsborg who wanted to rent the truck on Saturday night for a christmas party at his house.”
The vehicle has been in the family for over 25 years and still gets plenty of year-round use.
“My grandpa bought that truck in 1990 and we had it all redone in 1992. He passed away in 2011 and my grandma gave me the truck,” Holcom explained. “We still haul wheat with it, milo and beans, so it’s still a farm truck. We just get out in the wintertime and decorate it.”
The idea for the Christmas Truck started in the same way many great ideas begin — around the dinner table.
“We have steak night every Saturday at my house or at my uncle’s house, and we were just sitting around one night a couple weeks before Christmas and someone just said, ‘Let’s put lights on the REO and drive it around. Everybody knows that truck and knows where it lives.’” Holcom said.
Since then, Holcom, his fiancé Amy Bohrn, father Ted Holcom, uncle Rusty Young and cousin Travis Young all pitch in to decorate the vehicle with new elements each year.
“Last year, we kind of just threw some lights on the end of it and won the Marquette parade competition. This year, we did quite a better job putting lights on it and put a tree in the back. It doesn’t have a trailer hitch on it, so next year, I’m going to build one I can put on and take off, and I’ll pull a big trailer behind it. I’m thinking of putting a big Santa Claus, reindeer and sleigh on it with fake snow and everything,” Holcom said.
Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.