Centralia tractor parade goes on despite icy conditions

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CENTRALIA - Numerous churches, businesses and schools in mid-Missouri closed or canceled events Friday afternoon amid freezing rain and icy roads, but the 10th annual Young Farmer's Christmas Tractor Parade trudged on.

"Usually farmers go on no matter what the weather is," Brian Schnarre, an event organizer said. 

The parade, hosted by Centralia Young Farmers, includes tractors and trailers decked out with Christmas lights, holiday scenes and other decorations. Schnarre said more than 6,000 people came last year, but the turn out may be half that this year. 

"Last year we had 73 floats," he said. "This year with the weather the way it is, you know, if we get over 30, I think we'll be doing good." 

Many people became weary of attending after several counties issued winter weather advisories. Slick roadways prompted some people to comment on the page.

"This was going to be my first year but with the ice I'm not risking my life," Tonya Williams said.

Lori Underwood Hagenhoff wrote, "Oh so wanted to go!! We loved last years but i don't drive in this stuff. Everybody be careful!"

It wasn't just a decrease in audience members, either. Some food vendors decided against coming due to the road conditions. 

Schnarre said the event can't be rescheduled because the farmers need to have their farming equipment operational again as soon as possible, so they can't have the lights on them too long.

The roads in Centralia were relatively clear of ice, but the sidewalks were slippery in some spots. The police chief was salting the sidewalks in preparation around 5 p.m.

Schnarre said he understands if people can't make it, but said it'll be a good show for people who do come.

"We do this just to have fun," he said. "It's just our way of celebrating Christmas."

It's Pam Barnes second year having a float in the parade, and she said the weather didn't sway whether she would come or not.

"We were gonna do it no matter what," she said. "Everybody in town seems to enjoy it."

Barnes said she made her float with her boyfriend within the past few days. It is dedicated to the memory of her daughter Chelsea who passed away in October. 

A Christmas Market event began at 5 p.m. in the town square. Santa was there with his sleigh to take pictures with children, but his reindeer could not come as planned. There were still some food vendors that sold treats like kettle corn and pulled pork as people waited for the parade to begin at 7. It will last until around 9 p.m.