by Mallory Moad
Check out the coupon for Sunnyside Bicycles in Reedley at the end of this post!
Christmas is on the way, and Central Valley towns are getting into the spirit of the season with parades, parades, and more parades! Last weekend I attended three in a row, each representing the values and histories of the communities in which they took place.
On the third of December, I returned to Reedley for the Electrical Farm Equipment Parade. Seventeen years ago, the Croissant family decided it was high time the town had a Christmas parade. With its strong community of farmers, it made sense to celebrate the holiday and pay tribute to agriculture with one big celebration. With a procession of tractors and trucks festooned with strings of bright lights, a tradition began.
Over the years the parade has grown not only in size but in popularity, too. Over 50 entries made up this year’s extravaganza with more than 5,000 spectators lining the streets in a boisterous carnival atmosphere. When I was told this event involved farm machinery lit up like Christmas trees, I thought it sounded, well, kind of wacky. Tractors. With lights. Really?
Yes, really! With a little ingenuity, a lot of sparkle and a healthy dose of holiday magic, even a hard-working, earth-moving bulldozer can be transformed into something dazzling, unique, outrageous, and totally awesome.
It wasn’t only agricultural equipment that was dressed up for the occasion. There were big rigs, tow trucks, a variety of fire engines, and a school bus, too, all gussied up for a night on the town. School groups and church organizations rode floats decked out with everything from simple twinkling lights to elaborate animated message boards. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Believe me, it was cool! Even the marching bands were electrified. With uniforms and instruments accessorized with brilliant, flashing colors, the Reedley High School Big Green Machine became the Big Green (And Yellow And White And Red) Machine, whose rousing medley of traditional Christmas tunes brought cheers from the sidelines. The Miyakawa family, the parade’s Family of The Year, greeted the crowd from atop a classic red fire engine trimmed in glittering white lights.
The process of decorating a vehicle of any size with miles and miles of lights takes time, dedication, manpower, and a sense of humor. It took five men two days to decorate the Orange Cove Titans’ fire engine. What keeps all those lights in place? According to the vehicle’s driver, “Scotch tape, zip ties, bubble gum, and several very small people holding on.” And what about the process of keeping a tradition like the Reedley Electrical Farm Equipment Parade in place? What does that involve? I think it’s love for your community, pride in your heritage and lots of people of all sizes holding on.
My name is Mallory Moad and I love parades. My next stop will be the Christmas parade in London, and then
Sanger for the 68th Annual Nation’s Christmas Tree City Toyland Parade.
You can find all of Mallory’s Valley Parade articles in KRL’s Arts & Entertainment section.