by Jim Bulls
One of the most successful events held by the Reedley Downtown Association, the Electric Farm Equipment Parade, was the brain child of local auctioneer Ed Croissant. Sometime in the fall of 2000, Ed was talking with daughter Daniele, owner of the former Coffee and Candy Shop, about ways to promote Reedley’s downtown for the upcoming holidays. He came up with a unique way to honor and pay tribute to Reedley’s farming heritage by organizing the parade.
That first year there were about 15 or so parade entries and it rained during the parade, but the audience loved it. The next year the parade entries doubled in size, as did the number of spectators, and a new Reedley tradition took its place next to the Reedley Fiesta. Ed did such a good job organizing the event that it continues to run just as it was initially set up. The only additions are food booths and horse-drawn rides.
All of the motorized entries must be farm or agriculture-related equipment. There are also walking groups that represent some of the community churches, schools or organizations, and some horse or horse-drawn entries as well. Everything kicks off with the official lighting of the downtown Christmas tree. Main Street stores are open for shopping and food booths serve up hot chocolate, kettle corn, and other goodies. The parade starts at 7:30 p.m. I would guesstimate that there are a couple thousand spectators now, mostly families, lining both sides of G Street.
My favorite place to sit is right in front of Mainstreet Café. It’s close to the announcer booth and you have a great view of those huge, decorated combines and spray rigs maneuvering around the Christmas tree in the center of 11th and G Streets! Most entries have every square inch covered in tiny, sparkling colored lights. There may be a string of trailers with Christmas trees made from boxes, or Santa riding high on a fork lift.
One year an alien in a flying saucer showed up, claiming to be the creator of all the crop circles. My wife’s favorite entry from a few years ago was the Reedley High FFA (Future Farmers of America) which featured nine perfectly aligned Kubota tractor “reindeer” pulling Santa in a sleigh. Another crowd pleaser is the “Great American Hay Rake” that spins and careens its way down the street.
This year, the Electrical Farm Equipment Parade will be held on Thursday, December 2. Pre-parade festivities will start at 5:30 p.m. with free buggy rides, a live Nativity scene, a concert by local band The Autumn Lo, a visit with an old time Santa, shopping, food and Christmas music. The lights on the Christmas tree will be turned on at 7:00 p.m. and the parade, led by Reedley High’s Big Green Marching Machine, will start about 7:30 p.m.
Bring your family to an evening filled with the magic of Christmas. There’s nothing like starting the Christmas season with some hot chocolate and a cozy blanket, surrounded by your family watching the sparkling lights of the parade go by. If you’re interested in entering your favorite piece of farm equipment, go to the RDA
website for a parade entry form. It is not too late to enter. This is an event not to be missed, rain or shine. Come early to get a good spot!