This is a rare guest column by the ever delightful Brian Smith who rode in the “Lighted Tractor Parade” during the “Orange Holiday Festival” — although his name for the event is much more fun!
When my friend, TERRI MILES (she runs this news site) asked me to check out the “Orange Connecticut Electrical Christmas and Holiday Lights Extravaganza Big Fancy Tractor Parade” (name approximate)… I thought it sounded like a great idea. Then when my friend, DAVE EISENMAN (tractor-driver) invited me to be in the same parade, as he has asked for the past many years, I said yes. Great Idea.
So… Sunday night, I hitched a ride on a corn trailer with a giant illuminated inflatable penguin wearing a Santa hat, and I was proud of it. Orange Center Road never looked better than it did with more than fifty lit up John Deeres and Kubotas and International Harvesters.
I became an embedded reporter where the tractor parade assembled… over in the parking lot for the Fred Wolfe Park soccer fields. When I got there, I was surprised by the sustained thunder of dozens of tractors with full-throated, some perhaps faulty, exhaust systems. It sounded terrific. All those lit up tractors and trailers were dazzling… I felt like I was at the Big E… or Disney World… or sitting on the curb outside that house with the Christmas lights on Lincoln Road that can be seen from space (probably).
And, I mean this… everyone was in a tremendously good mood as they were getting ready to roll. Eleven on a scale of 1 to 5 mood. No one is ever unhappy at a parade… unless you are standing next to a kid whose parents just got him a horn from the souvenir guy.
At around 5 o’clock, the procession of blinking and flashing farm equipment made its way from Fred Wolfe Park through the dark roads over to the Orange Center Historic District… where the ice sculpture and the singing carolers and model train builders and SANTA CLAUS HIMSELF had entertained the crowd until the tractors appeared out of the shadows…
And… because of the relatively humane weather (45º F and clear on December 5 is not bad at all), the crowd… of hundreds, maybe a thousand… holiday-fun-loving grownups and kids at The Town Green and along Orange Center Road and over at The Fairgrounds…was a bit larger than usual.
From start to finish it was a sensational and well done “Orange Connecticut Electrical Christmas and Holiday Lights Extravaganza Big Fancy Tractor Parade” (name approximate)… the Macy’s parade people in New York City should be jealous. I already have an idea for next year… if I can just get to a ski mountain and “borrow” one of their snow-making machines. Oh, I WILL win first place.
And a big thanks to KEN CIOLA (tractor-driver) for letting me have a place on that corn trailer next to Opus (inflatable penguin)… Tow Mater (inflatable tow truck) and Olaf (huge inflatable snow man)…thanks, Ken, for giving me the chance to be a reporter inside the parade… and for driving so well… and safely… that I was able to wave to the crowd… shout to the kids… and.. the best news of my day, I didn’t fall off the trailer.