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Rockwood’s Christmas lights and parade marks 20th anniversary

This year will mark the twentieth year that area farmers deck out their farm machinery with Christmas lights and parade through the village of Rockwood.
“We believe that we were the first lit up night-time parade in Ontario,” said event organizer Walter Swanston in a news release.
While nighttime parades are becoming more common, Swanston pointed out that the Rockwood Farmers’ parade is unique in that it is completely noncommercial, with no advertising. In the event, which takes place Dec. 13, the floats are farm machines – tractors, combines or the like – some antique and some modern, but all lit up and decorated with garlands, ribbons and bows, and even fully decorated Christmas trees.
“The first year we had 15 entries,” Swanston said. “I was the only traffic control and I stopped traffic on Highway 7 with a farm equipment dealership’s truck with orange rotating lights. Imagine what would happen now if I tried to pull off that stunt.”
Swanston credits the longtime success of the parade to the partnerships the parade committee has with the Township of Guelph-Eramosa and the Rockwood Fire and Police. The inspiration for the parade remains the same as it did the first year. “We wanted to create some awareness for our local agriculture,” said Swanston. “We also wanted to say thank you to our town neighbours for their understanding of our farm machinery on the roads the rest of the year.”
This year’s parade boasts 21 entries, featuring thousands of lights, and includes five of the original farmers who took part in that first year, the release said.
“If you haven’t seen the parade before, you will be blown away by the show these farmers put on,” said Swanston.
The parade starts at 7:00 on the north edge of Rockwood and finishes on the 4th line of Guelph-Eramosa. Details about the exact parade route can be found on the parade’s website www.rockwoodfarmersparade.org.

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