Hortons carry on ‘Little Red Engine’ tradition


Ted and Nancy Horton sold their pontoon boat this year, but found a way to keep their “Little Red Engine” in the Parade of Lights. For years Nancy Horton has wanted to see Santa on a sky ski in the parade. Nancy says, “I tried to get Mike Murphy to do it last year but he had other commitments and couldn’t do it. This year, Mike has offered the use of a barge pulled by his boat. The train will be pulling Santa on a sky ski!”

The “Little Red Engine” was once owned by resident James Bond. When James fell ill and passed away, the Hortons offered to take it, fix it up and keep presenting it in the parade. “It was a popular entry in the parade when James owned it, we wanted to continue what he started,” says Nancy.

Ted spent two months, eight to ten hours a day, fixing it up and reworking it. He removed all the plywood, made a new frame and used quilted aluminum foil to hold the lights. The Horton’s friend, Stew Parks, helped Ted add a cow catcher and more lights. “Stew helped a great deal. Getting the wheels to look like they are spinning requires a special talent,” says Nancy.

“We knew it was all worthwhile last year when we saw how many Canyon Lakers have parties to view the parade. We were touched when we saw a dad with two kids getting their picture taken with the train when it was docked at Holiday Harbor.”

For the past two years the Hortons have entered the “Little Red Engine” in the Parade of Lights. Both years it won the Commodore Award, which is an award given to the boat with the highest score from the judges. Along with bragging rights, the award includes $100 cash prize and a plaque.

The Hortons are hoping the “Little Red Engine” fits through the boat tunnel this year. The boat wouldn’t fit through the tunnel in 2014 due to the high water level. “We just paraded the Main Lake that year,” says Nancy.

The Hortons are not sure of the exact number of lights on the “Little Red Engine,” but estimate that there are over 5,000 lights. Ted plans to add even more lights this year, which means more hours of Ted in the garage gluing lights in quilted aluminum foil.

Nancy says, “The Boat Parade is one of many unique things about our community that makes it so great to live here.”



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Donna Ritchie