newssun
HISTORIC 
Weather Updates

Road trip for Safe Place

An antique tractor parade made its way their final stop R R Crossing ZiSunday. The tractor parade raised money for

An antique tractor parade made its way to their final stop, R&R Crossing in Zion on Sunday. The tractor parade raised money for A Safe Place and also to put together care packages for soldiers overseas. | Sarah Nader~Special to The News-Sun

storyidforme: 4373022
tmspicid: 1045380
fileheaderid: 744043

At the wheel

Steve Merkling of Winthrop Harbor, 1949 Model A John Deere

Danny Merkling of Pleasant Prairie, Wis., 1945 Model A John Deere

Carl Williams of Winthrop Harbor, 1949 Model MT John Deere

Danny Tessin of Zion, 1955 Massey-Harris-Ferguson

Rob Weaver of Beach Park, 1948 8N Ford

Monica Weaver of Beach Park, 1955 Massey-Harris-Ferguson

Bill Tessin of Zion, 1942 WC Allis Chalmers

Wayne Henkel of Gurnee, 1963 International 856

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: April 2, 2011 5:27PM



WINTHROP HARBOR — A parade of farm tractors just doesn’t draw big crowds.

There were no floats, politicians or performers on Sunday, but what the event lacked in pizazz was balanced with heart.

A handful of spectators applauded the eight-tractor procession that chugged along 9th Avenue, and Green Bay, Kilbourne and Russell roads to the R&R Crossing Saloon in tiny Russell.

It’s a small parade for antique tractor enthusiasts. It’s also a fund-raiser for A Safe Place, the shelter for battered women, according to participant Bill Tessin of Zion.

“Everyone enjoys participating,” Tessin said. “We’re getting (participants) from all different parts of the county.”

There were only two participants when Steve and Danny Merkling started the parade 20 years ago. The brothers described it as a joke that grew into a local event.

They drove their tractors to R&R Crossing Saloon at 14827 W. Russell Road in unincorporated Russell, where owner Ron Newman of Zion has held a Thanksgiving benefit for A Safe Place for the past 30 years.

“We thought it was a good place to give money to,” Newman said.

He also collects food for the shelter.

This year, the saloon is also collecting items to put into care packages for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan through Dec. 7. Most needed are things like hard candy, hand sanitizer, baked goods and calling cards, he said.

The saloon holds a benefit for A Safe Place the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter every year, Newman said.

The saloon raises at least $500 per year, he estimated.

He said he grew up an Iowa farm boy and enjoyed the tractor parade.

“I love it (the parade) because I love tractors,” Newman said.

But he remains a spectator because he doesn’t own one.

Tractor parade participation has increased by about 30 percent in recent years, Tessin said.

“Each year, we get a couple more tractors,” Tessin said.

At the wheel:

Steve Merkling of Winthrop Harbor, 1949 Model A John Deere

Danny Merkling of Pleasant Prairie, Wis., 1945 Model A John Deere

Carl Williams of Winthrop Harbor, 1949 Model MT John Deere

Danny Tessin of Zion, 1955 Massey-Harris Ferguson

Rob Weaver of Beach Park, 1948 8N Ford

Monica Weaver of Beach Park, 1955 Massey-Harris-Ferguson

Bill Tessin of Zion, 1942 WC Allis Chalmers

Wayne Henkel of Gurnee, 1963 International 856



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.