UPDATE (Wednesday, September 1, 2021): Tractor Display & Parade Organizer Rob Emmerthal has contacted The Newtown Bee to advise us that the schedule for Monday, September 4, has been updated slightly. Tractors will be on view 9-10:30 am, and the parade will begin at 10:30. This feature has been updated accordingly.
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For the second year in a row, there will not be a Newtown Labor Day Parade. Within hours of the announcement from event organizers, however, a grassroots event was being worked on.
The Labor Day Parade Committee announced through Facebook on Saturday, June 26, that the decision had been made to cancel this year’s parade.
The pandemic also forced the cancellation of 2020’s parade. The committee had been struggling in recent months with a decision for this year’s event, which annually draws thousands of participants from across the region, and even out of state, with thousands more lining the parade route in the center of town.
The cancellation of this year’s parade, according to the committee’s post, “was not made lightly. But the time and effort required to execute the event are too much with the short time remaining before Labor Day.”
The statement further noted that if the town wants to see the traditional event return, more volunteers will be needed.
“The committee has always been lean and mean and does not have enough remaining members or volunteers to pull off this herculean event,” the post noted. “So if you’d like to see the 60-year-old event return next year, PLEASE consider joining the committee or committing to volunteer.”
The organizing process for 2022 will begin in the fall, also according to the committee’s post.
Tractor Display & Parade
Within hours of the Labor Day Parade Committee’s formal announcement last weekend, one resident announced his own plans for a September 6 event that will follow the traditional parade route.
In a post on the Newtown United Facebook page, Rob Emmerthal announced he would organize a tractor parade for that day. It is not the first time Emmerthal has organized such an event, and far from the first time he and some friends will be traveling the parade route on Labor Day.
Emmerthal was joined by about 12 of his friends on Labor Day last year, when they put their tractors on view in front of Edmond Town Hall before driving them along Main Street.
He hopes to be joined by even more this year, when farm tractors of any age will roll down Main Street shortly before noon that Monday.
“Any farm tractor is welcome,” he said June 28. “That’s the only description I’m offering.
“I just don’t want to have a bunch of lawn tractors rolling down Main Street,” he added with a laugh.
Emmerthal and another tractor enthusiast (“I feel terrible, I can’t think of his name,” he admitted) started Housatonic Antique Tractor Club about 20 years ago, he said.
“That’s how we got into the parade,” he said. “The first or second year we did it, we had over 40 tractors.”
The group was relegated to the closing spot of the parade for many years, he said. It was only recently, he added, that Labor Day Parade Committee participant chair and lineup coordinator Melissa Kopcik “salvaged us and put us a little closer to the front.”
This year, Labor Day — in Newtown, anyway — will belong to the farm tractors.
Emmerthal is planning to drive his Massey-Ferguson 283, and he knows of someone planning to drive a Ferguson TO-35.
“My daughter will have an Oliver 770, George Birch generally shows up with an Oliver 77, Dan Jopp will probably be there with a 404 International, Shane Powers will be there with one, perhaps two — he has a Farmall H and a John Deere 3020 — and of course, Milt Adams will be there,” Emmerthal said. “He’s my co-collaborator this year. I’m not sure what he’s bringing. He’s got about ten of them.”
Emmerthal is asking tractor owners to be at 45 Main Street for 9 am, to have the tractors on display for about 90 minutes.
“People can stop, climb on the seat on most of the machines, and get their picture taken,” he said.
He plans to start the drive around 10:30 am, he said, following the full parade route, which means heading south on Main Street to Glover Avenue, following Glover to Queen Street, and then following Queen to Church Hill Road.
In addition to the standing and then rolling display of tractors, representatives from Hope On Main Street (HOMS) will be accepting donations that morning. HOMS is a fundraising team that honors cancer survivors and their caregivers with special events to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. Emmerthal is a member of HOMS.
“I’ve lost a lot of friends and family to cancer,” he said this week. “That’s the cause at the root of all this.
“That, and there’s nothing like the face of a kid that sees farm tractors. I drive my machines all over town, and love seeing the kids’ faces.”
Reservations are not needed to participate in the Labor Day Tractor Parade, according to Emmerthal, who can be reached through Facebook.
Associate Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farmalls, John Deeres, and Massey Ferguson tractors all lined up in front of Edmond Town Hall on Labor Day 2020. Local tractor enthusiasts who organized a small event after last year’s Labor Day Parade was canceled have gone back to work for this year’s holiday. —Bee Photo, S. Baggett Smith
Milt Adams, with a friend, waves from his Farmall tractor while traveling south on Main Street on Monday, September 7, 2020. Adams and fellow tractor enthusiast Rob Emmerthal are hoping to be joined by a large contingent of farm tractors for another event this year . —Bee Photo, S. Smith Baggett