ST. ALBANS — Nearly 50 light-wrapped tractors crawled off the fields of Franklin County and cruised downtown Friday night for the fourth annual St. Albans Cooperative Creamery Holiday Tractor Parade.
Parade organizers honored the memory of Richard “Dickie” Longway, a Swanton farmer and the parade’s Santa Claus for its first three years. Longway passed on in May, at the age of 66.
His family served as the parade’s grand marshal. They rode directly behind Gov. Phil Scott, who drove what a press release described as a “glowing tractor.”
“Dickie really embodied the spirit of this event,” Kiersten Bourgeois, the co-op’s business development and communications manager, said, in a press release. “He was able to make a shy child talk or a grumpy kid smile, and he always took time to hear every little child’s wish.”
“My dad loved this event,” Longway’s son, Travis, said, also in the press release. “He enjoyed the time we spent as a family, decorating our tractor and seeing all the little kids excited for Christmas.
“There were two things he loved most: his family and farming. This event is about both. He would be very pleased to be remembered this way.”
Longway also served on Swanton’s planning commission, town selectboard and board of civil authority, and worked with the Farmer’s Watershed Alliance.
Richford farmer Amanda St. Pierre said, in the press release, that Longway “believed in serving the community, whether through conservation practices on his farm or by being Santa. His presence has been continually missed…
“This event is such an uplifting sign of support for all of us in the dairy industry, and we know how pleased he would have been to see all of the kids waiting to see Santa.”
The press release said that the tractor parade began, in 2013, as a community event celebrating the end of farmers’ cropping season.