Pine trees, snowflakes, eggnog, gingerbread, Christmas lights and a manure spreader.

Mcbride matti
Editor / Progressive Dairy

Perhaps it's not on your stereotypical list of Christmas traditions, but it's one that the communities surrounding Rockwood, Ontario, know well.

Thirty-two winters ago, a group of farmers shined up several pieces of farm equipment, strung Christmas lights across the machines and paraded down the streets of Rockwood.

“It was a way to give back to our urban neighbours,” says Debbie Brander, a local producer who participates in the parade. “They’re so patient with us all year when we’re moving equipment on the roads – this was a way to say ‘thank you.’”

The streets of Rockwood are lined with attendees on the second Thursday in December as the community gathers to watch 25 “floats” roll down the road.


“We have thousands of people come watch it each year,” Brander says. “One year we had close to 10,000 [people] – there are people from different countries who are visiting relatives here and come watch the parade.”

A committee of six local farmers oversees parade entries, scheduling and volunteer efforts. To participate in the parade, a float entry must be from a neighbouring farm, contain a piece of farm equipment and refrain from any advertising, sponsorships or political statements. Capping the parade at 25 entries allows the parade committee to select a variety of farming equipment – old, new, unique, etc. – for the public to view and ensures the safety of participants and spectators, as a major railway is along the 2.5-mile parade route. A waitlist is available for those interested in participating in the event. No fees are associated with the parade, with the hopes of keeping the celebration fun for all.

“We’re definitely making a connection with the community,” Brander says. “There are strong relationships between our group and the township, the police and the fire department. There are volunteer firefighters from the surrounding areas who offer their help – this event really brings everyone together.”

Roughly 40 firefighters and police officers volunteer their time and work to keep spectators safe during the event. Brander credits the township of Guelph/Eramosa for their help and support.

The parade has welcomed all sorts of equipment over the years – fertilizer spreaders, forage wagons, strawberry planters, snow blowers, plows, discs and balers. Mr. and Mrs. Claus’ combine is a fan favourite each year, though a dancing skid steer with lights and balloons is also a popular entry.

This year the parade will take place Thursday, Dec. 14. Details can be found on the Rockwood Farmers' Santa Claus Parade of Lights Facebook page.