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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

HOWARD AND KIM Fuchs of North Branch drove this old Allis Chalmers all the way from their home – then drove it all the way back after the Tractor Parade in Callicoon was over. Folks in Callicoon are accustomed to traffic jams on the day of the parade, which this time was Sunday. On the way in and the way out, they wait patiently as tractors lead the way down the road.

Tractors Roll
Into History

By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON — June 15, 2004 – Maybe it’s the fumes, but it could be the sound of the old engine.
Something changes in Callicoon on tractor parade day.
A hamlet that claims to be one of the county’s smallest swells to standing-room-only capacity on the second Sunday in June.
Folks from New York City position themselves in a prime spot on the edge of the sidewalk shoulder to shoulder with old geezers from “up the road a bend” and greet each other like old friends.
And Jill Wiener’s girlfriends from the city come up trawling for husbands.
“Hey,” the Callicoon Center resident noted with a laugh, “what more can you want than a nice single guy with a tractor?”
Maybe Kenny Chesney had it right all along – the country singer plays the theme song to the Callicoon Tractor Parade every time he takes to the stage: “She thinks my tractor’s sexy . . .”
Wiener moved up to the county several years ago from New York City. Her roots are in Long Island.
But she loves the tractor parade for its hometown feel.
She was invited to a wedding two years ago on the second Sunday of June, and she refused the invitation.
“I thought it was so inconsiderate,” she laughed. “This is my favorite day of the year.”
She’s not alone.
The tractor parade, which started with 35 tractors drag-racing down Main Street eight years ago, was 400-some machines strong Sunday afternoon.
There were Speedexes and Farmalls, spankin’ new John Deeres and 1920s machines.
There were kids on their plastic tractor toys, and Jug Keesler whose sign said it all – “this tractor’s old, and so is the driver.”
The tractor parade has become synonymous with Callicoon – a symbol of the farming traditions that have shaped the countryside.
“It’s honoring the people who work so hard,” said Linda Thiede, a Damascus, Pa. resident who signed up to sell t-shirts sporting the parade logo with husband Olaf. “We have a dairy farm next door to us, and I marvel at what he has to do on a daily basis.”
This was the Thiedes second tractor parade. Last year’s event was all it took to hook them in.
“I love that it’s local, I love the colors . . .” Olaf said. “Besides, where else can you get tractors back to the 1920s?”
The thrill of seeing those old tractors helped Anna Hess convince fiance Dan Briggs to come to his first parade this year.
Hess’ son Lukes has made a regular showing in the parade, and the family has always been on the sidelines.
They dragged the county manager along for the ride this year, and he confessed to being duly impressed.
“I think it’s fabulous,” he said, “seeing the age and how well-kept the tractors are.
“And it’s always nice to see people you don’t see day in and day out,” he added.
There were plenty to see.
This year’s parade drew record crowds to Callicoon, filling every parking spot in town.
Folks filled the firehouse for an early morning pancake breakfast, walked down to Audley Dorrer Drive to pick up some flowers and pottery at the farmers’ market, headed back to Main Street to watch the parade, then trailed the tractors down to the Delaware Youth Center for a benefit chicken barbeque.
“It’s an easy day for Mom!” Justine Grabowski-Preiser said.
She and husband Spencer drifted back and forth from the official opening day of summer activities in town and their Callicoon home.
They left the firemen’s breakfast in time to get some chores done at home, but they were right back in town for the noon whistle and the start of the parade.
“It’s something a lot of people don’t get to see,” Spencer Preiser noted.
Like a young child sleeping in his father’s arms as they made their way down Main Street – lulled into la la land by the hum of the engine.
Only in Callicoon . . .

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