If all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, could the same be said for farmers?
Not if Dorothy Soo-Wiens has anything to do with it.
Soo-Weins was watching the late night news when she saw a story about a tractor parade held in the small Haldimand County town of Selkirk.
She thought it was a great idea and spoke to her husband, farmer and Niagara-on-the-Lake councillor Erwin Wiens.
“It was 11:20 at night and I said to (Erwin), ‘We should do something here,’” Soo-Wiens said.
That was 2021, when NOTL was just coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Things had begun to open up, but not in time for the town to host its annual Christmas parade.
“We started calling some friends,” Soo-Wiens said. A parade of 19 tractors was put together on short notice, and thus, the town’s Christmas Tractor Parade was born.
Since that first year, the parade has grown, and this holiday season, it will be back for its third promenade through the village of Virgil.
Participation doubled in 2022 to 39 tractors and for this year’s event, there will be at least 50 taking part, Soo-Wiens said.
This year’s parade will be held Thursday, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m., and Soo-Wiens said there is still time for more tractor drivers to sign up.
“It would be great to see if we could get to 60,” she said.
Starting and ending at the Centennial Arena in Virgil, a long line of bedazzled tractors will head west on Four Mile Creek Road before turning north on Pleasant Lane and then continue along Eden Street.
The parade will then head east on Penner Street/Line 1 Road before turning south on Concession 4. The parade will continue along Concession 4 until it reaches Line 2 Road. Heading south on Line 2, the parade will then turn westward at Four Mile Creek Road and return to the arena.
People love the parade, Soo-Wiens said.
“There’s something about the farm vehicles and the lights that everyone loves,” she said.
The only problem for Wiens is that she never gets to see the parade, as she and Erwin are busy marshaling the participants back at the Virgil arena.
“I have never been able to go out and watch,” she said.
She has been told by others that a lot of people turn out along the route and that the event is popular with residents at the Radiant Care Pleasant Manor long-term care home.
“Every balcony is full,” Soo-Wiens said.
As the parade continues to expand in size and popularity, Soo-Wiens decided this year to add a fundraising component to the event.
Joe Pilliteri, co-owner of Lakeview Vineyard Equipment, was approached about taking part in the parade and making it an opportunity through his Team Pillsy initiative to raise funds for cancer research.
Pilliteri was quick to jump on board alongside members of Team Pillsy, a group of volunteers which raises funds annually for the Terry Fox Foundation through participation in the town’s annual Terry Fox Run every September and through other events such as comedy night.
“I just think it’s such a great idea,” Pilliteri said.
On parade night, a group of Team Pillsy volunteers will take to the streets during the parade on ATVs to collect donations from spectators.
As of now, the team has raised upwards of $125,000 for cancer research this year and with the parade and with events, including another comedy night Bella Terra Vineyards planned for before that calendar flips to 2024, Pilliteri is hopeful to add a significant amount to that total.
“We’re hoping with these events we get to $150,000,” he said.
Meanwhile, anyone interested in taking part in the parade can contact Soo-Wiens by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the event can be found on the parade’s Facebook page, NOTL Christmas Tractor Parade.