Lowrys Christmas parade: Rumbling tractors, jingling horses

adouglas@heraldonline.comDecember 21, 2013 

As has been the case for more than 30 years, hundreds of horses, tractors and a variety of farm-themed floats rolled through the town of Lowrys in Chester County on Saturday afternoon in what participants say is a “one-of-a-kind” Christmas tradition.

There were horses with jingle bells and glitter, tractors with antlers and garland, and even a retro 70’s peace-loving Santa Claus.

An estimated 400 horses and at least 100 tractors and lawn mowers participated in Lowrys' annual “Old Time Christmas Parade.”

The parade’s “royalty” included the S.C. High School Rodeo Association’s queen Kelsea Williams from Greer and princess Madison Skylar Denton from Chester County.

Before the parade started on Saturday, Denton and her mom added big handfuls of glitter to their horse Waltz who carried the rodeo princess down S.C. 909.

The event attracts thousands of spectators to the town of about 200 people.

The most enthusiastic parade-goers camped in Lowrys on Friday night to be sure they had the best seats. Dozens of residents parked cars along the parade route the day before to claim their spot.

Everyone else brought lawn chairs and blankets on Saturday afternoon. Many people were tailgating and grilling with family and friends hours before the parade began.

In the crowded Lowrys One Stop convenience store nearby, parade watchers grabbed snacks and drinks and told newcomers, “You’ll love it. Ain’t nothing but tractors and horses.”

Organizers are serious about the parade rules: only farm-themed participants are allowed. All floats must be horse-drawn or hauled by tractor.

Toward the end of the parade, two pranksters sneaked in with cars. It didn’t take long for a nearby S.C. Highway Patrol trooper to spot them and direct them off the parade route.

Lowry’s Christmas celebration started as a tiny procession of a couple tractors and a handful of people riding horses through town.

Now, William Stephenson – who started the tradition with his family 32 years ago – leads the hour-long parade in his all-red dress suit in front of thousands of people.

Saturday’s celebration had all the usual Lowry’s parade sights: kids in the grass, scrambling for candy; adults and kids alike eagerly taking thousands of chocolate milk cartons handed out by Ronnie Stephenson’s dairy farm; and dozens of Bobby Lee’s tractors, which make up a good portion of the parade.

The parade is loud – the hums and roars of huge John Deere’s and classic Allis-Chalmers and Case-o-Matic’s overpower most yells of “Merry Christmas” and holiday music played over speakers on many floats.

At the end, parade regulars just stay seated to wait for the traffic to die down and Lowrys to return to its usual quiet, slow pace.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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