Jeanne Sager | Democrat
GEORGE OLSEN OF Shandelee was tucked safely in his car seat carrier atop grandpa Russell Olsen’s tractor at Sunday’s Tractor Parade in Callicoon. George is the son of Steven and Nicole Olsen.
Parade tractors on
By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON Three hundred twenty-four tractors.
Six hundred twenty-nine pancake breakfasts.
Eleven hundred chicken dinners.
And already the calendars are marked for the next Callicoon Tractor Parade.
“Every year you wonder, are people going to have had enough? They haven’t had enough,” Organizer Kathy Langley said with a laugh.
Sunday’s parade was lucky number 13 for its sponsor, the Delaware Youth Center, which had nearly 40 volunteers on their feet from 7 a.m. straight through the noon whistle start to the parade, two hours of motoring down Main Street and another couple hours of chicken barbecuing back at the center.
And even with 324 tractors (although some watchers insisted it was even higher) compared to last year’s 262, Youth Center President Tess McBeath said the day “ran like clockwork.”
White Sulphur Springs resident Mickey Mangan was keeping track on her watch.
“I timed it - at one point it was 10 tractors in one minute,” Mangan said, shaking her head. “Then there are these bursts with no tractors, but just imagine how many there are.”
How many is always the question of the day as the thousand-some onlookers who trekked into town from parking spots far and wide keep their eyes turned toward the youth center to see the last machine makes it way out from behind the backstop (they kept them off the playing field this year) out onto the street for the loop around town.
“I think it was a perfect day,” McBeath said, her voice drained after hours of directing traffic above the roar of engines.
The parade was led by Dolly the horse, driven by Butch and Liz Peters of the Beechwoods to represent the history of farming with August and Irene Andersen of Andersen’s Maple Farm in Long Eddy as the honorary leaders right behind them.
They were followed by a mix of lawn tractors, toy tractors, old tractors and new tractors.
“Most folks here, sometime in their life, were on a farm,” said Hortonville resident Joel Kurtz, who took up a spot on the sidelines for the first time in parade history. “They get to watch and say, ‘Hey, I drove one of those when I was 12!’”
He wasn’t exaggerating. He “fools” with old machinery these days, but many of the machines were young when he was.
Kurtz was in the first drive down Main Street 13 years ago, and he’s driven in each event in the years since except this one.
This year, he said with a grin, “the younger guys get a chance.”
The older “guys” did too. And the women. And the kids.
“The everyday guy gets to ride down Main Street waving while everybody cheers for them,” Langley said of the tractor parade. “And not just the guys but the women and the kids.”
Jim Klein’s kids were in the parade, along with one of his tractors. And he stood on the sidelines with wife Kim just watching it all go by.
The Youngsville resident was born and raised on a farm, and he comes every year to see the tractors.
But this year, it was even better.
“We’re all depressed because of the stupid economy, but thank God here we have a nice day, a day out,” he said.
And next year, on the second Sunday in June, he’ll be back - along with hundreds of tractors.