Lighted Tractor Parade
Awardee: Centralia Downtown Association
Award: Outstanding Promotional Event
Bringing people downtown is a mainstay of our revitalization work. We want locals and visitors to understand the history while enjoying the hum of a lively present. Events draw people downtown, but a truly outstanding promotion creates a one-of-a-kind experience. The Centralia Downtown Association’s Lighted Tractor Parade does exactly that! Held on the second Saturday in December, this holiday spectacular highlights Centralia’s agricultural heritage and showcases large and small businesses, farmers, civic groups, school groups, and local bands. It’s become a Centralia holiday tradition.
The Lighted Tractor Parade began 10 years ago with seven entries and a lot of doubters. Today, vehicle entries are capped at 90 and every available spot is filled within a few days. The parade lasts for over an hour, illuminating downtown streets with over 100,000 lights on creative and colorful floats, and is enjoyed by 15,000 spectators. Along with the grand marshal, always a local farmer, the Grinch accompanied by Whos from Whoville with huge, sculpted hair surprised and delighted the crowd last winter. Santa is always on the last entry – often on a sleigh pulled by eight giant Harleys decked out in dazzling lights.
The Lighted Tractor Parade is the kind of event where families, couples, and friends create treasured holiday memories. And its reputation is spreading. Local hotels book to capacity well in advance, and the downtown Centralia Amtrak station is hopping as people from all over the northwest come to marvel at the ingenuity and originality that goes into each entry. These visitors often arrive early to buy holiday gifts at downtown shops, bringing a splash of outside dollars into Centralia’s economy. Even with growing regional renown, the heart and soul of the event is the hard-working community of Centralia.