Jeep fest parade draws big crowd

Published: Aug. 10, 2016 at 1:37 PM EDT
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A crowd estimated at 30,000 people watched the first Jeep Fest parade roll through downtown Toledo Saturday. Nearly 1,000 Jeep vehicles from the past 75 years delighted fans gathered along Huron Street.

Rain cleared out shortly before the 11:00am start and showers stayed away during the 90 minute parade. Other Jeep Fest activities continued throughout the day.

The parade was televised live on 13abc.

Organizer Jerry Huber said he was happy with the parade and the number of people who turned out to participate or watch from Canada to California. Huber said "the Jeeps in the parade provide many diverse examples of Jeep models produced over those 75 years with nearly every production model represented. The large number of military Jeeps (were) joined by civilian variants produced after WWII when Willys set up to make Jeep a household name."

There were a number of unique Jeep models appearing at the festival. For example, the pink Jeep Surrey, often referred to as the "Elvis Jeep" and some of the Jeepster sport models that many identify as the "Shriner Jeeps" will be included among the models on display.

Toledo Jeep Fest is a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Jeep brand. In addition to the parade, hundreds of additional Jeep vehicles were displayed at a car show across from the Valentine Theater and a festival area including food trucks, displays and entertainment stretches along North St. Clair Street between Jefferson Avenue and Jackson Street. Additional displays were located inside the Seagate Convention Center and Imagination Station. "As we planned the Parade, there was an idea to present the Jeeps in a chronological order based on the production year...until we had 780 Jeeps registered from 14 states and Canada to manage" said Huber. "The logistics were overwhelming. We also realized that by presenting the flow in a somewhat random order, we could clearly show the spectators how the original Jeep design has evolved over the 75 years while still maintaining those unique styling cues which contribute to the...iconic Jeep image."

Organizers hope to make Jeep Fest an annual event in Toledo. Toledo's connection to the Jeep brand continues with workers producing the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee at local plants.

13abc is a sponsor of the Toledo Jeep Fest.