Some traditions are too good to stop.
This year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a Centralia Tractor Parade.
Again, at night, 7 p.m., Friday December 18, but this year it will be in reverse, with the floats parked in driveways and field entrances outside of Centralia’s west side along Rt. CC between Centralia and Sturgeon.
Members of the Centralia Young Farmers, which has been organizing the parade since it began in 2007, had to temporarily morph it into a reverse parade, where spectators will drive back and forth along CC to view the parked floats, to receive Boone County Health Department approval.
Taylor Moreland, one of the organizers, acted as liaison between the Centralia Young Farmers and the Boone County Department of Health and Senior Services, said the department nixed their original plan.
“It was for an extended route that would permit more parking and watching from vehicles, but the Health Department was concerned there would still be people congregating,” Moreland said. “They have a business guidance committee whose job it is to make sure people are holding events in a COVID-safe manner. That’s who we presented our plans to.”
The department, he said, suggested a reverse parade.
The idea was met with a little doubt, but more approval, a parade would be held!
“We all understood this could be a COVID-friendly parade. Essentially, we could still have all the floats and we could reduce traffic not have to worry about anybody getting out of their car. Everybody will be able to drive up and down Route CC and see the lit tractors.”
One of the other organizers said that the floats will be parked in driveways and field entrances on both sides of Route CC. The new style he said, could lead to even more elaborate and crowd-pleasing floats.
“You never know,” said Brian Schnarre, whose family has entered its famous “Thomas the Train-Engine” float every year. “Since we won’t be dealing with city height and width restrictions you might see some bigger, more spectacular floats, you never know.”
One important detail, the organizers ask that all those who plan on entering floats pre-register them on the parade’s Facebook page. The page can be found by typing “13th Annual Lighted Tractor *Reverse* Parade” into the search portion of Facebook, or go to https://www.facebook.com/events/425385551976272.
Organizers also ask that floats be in place before 6:30 p.m. December 18, to avoid any traffic problems.
In the same vein, the also ask that parade watchers please wait until 7 p.m. before they start driving up and down CC, also to avoid traffic problems.
“We need to be able to match parade participants with the number of field entrances and driveways available,” Schnarre said. “We have about 70 spots.”
Last year, he said the parade had more than 70 entrants.
Moreland said one disadvantage to the new, reverse parade was that it would not draw as many people into downtown Centralia where they could enjoy Christmas-lit square and patronize local businesses.
“I imagine several will,” he said, “just not as many as if we could have had it in town.”
Whether the Young Farmers return to the traditional parade after the pandemic has faded, he said, depends on how the reverse parade is received.