Four years ago, the Centralia Downtown Association, a non-profit group determined to revitalize the downtown area, decided to create something that would be a new fun family tradition while honoring the history of the area. Centralia, Washington has a history that includes farming, trains and friendly people.
This year was the 4th Annual Lighted Tractor Parade and from all accounts is proving to be a huge success. The night was chilly but dry. Trying to find parking near the route was like trying to get around an obstacle course. Cars were everywhere. When we finally found a spot, we started walking towards downtown and could hear cheering and yelling from blocks away. The main street (Tower St.) was already warmly lit with white Christmas lights crossing the street, but then we could see multiple-colored lights moving towards us.
People were lined up along with street, children in front where they could see the best. All kinds of vehicles were lined up down the street. Yes, many tractors but there were also old trucks, military vehicles, floats, and even bicycles. So many smiling, waving people, both on the floats and on the street. I don’t know that I have ever heard so many people cheering and yelling out to participants in any other parade I’ve been to. For some reason a nighttime parade has a very different feel to it. The sparkling lights give a different atmosphere to the celebration. Of course the requisite candy was tossed to the excited children!
There were over 50 entries in the parade, along with some business floats. According to Colleen Stewart of the Centralia Downtown Association, the only political entries allowed are simply politicians riding in a float, no vehicles advertising the particular politician.
One of the best things about a small town is knowing so many people, and it really adds to the fun of the event when you recognize friends participating in the parade.
After the parade many people stepped into one of the several delicious-smelling restaurants located in the downtown area. We popped into O’Blarney’s (which also happened to be a major sponsor of the parade) and had a hearty meal and continued to talk about how much we enjoyed the parade.
This event will certainly go on our calendar for next year, and should be even more spectacular as it will be the 5th annual event. If you want to experience some free old-fashioned fun with lots of colorful lights and friendly people, come to downtown Centralia on December 13, 2014!
For more information on the Centralia Downtown Association check out their website at DowntownCentralia.org.