By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
EAST DURHAM — Nearly two dozen tractors both large and small wound their way through East Durham for the town’s first-ever charity tractor run.
A popular fundraising event in small villages in Ireland, the tractor run made its way to Route 145 on Oct. 8.
“We are doing a charity run,” said organizer Michael Reilly, owner of McReilly’s Resort in East Durham. “This is our first time doing it — it’s a tractor run. They are very popular in Ireland at the moment and they raise a lot of money for charities.”
This is the first time such an event was held in Greene County, and Reilly said he hopes to make it an annual event that will grow larger with time.
“They do it in Ireland on a bigger scale but this is our first time doing it so hopefully it will be bigger next year,” he said. “The first year we are just getting it off the ground and getting it going.”
Funds raised during the tractor run were donated to the East Durham Volunteer Fire Company and other charitable groups in honor of Seamus Crilly, a local firefighter who died last year.
“We are raising money for the fire department and we are also doing it in the name of Seamus Crilly, who used to work with the fire department,” Reilly said. “He died last year. We are going to create a scholarship in the high school in Durham and put money towards the scholarship in his name.”
Holding a tractor run in honor of Crilly seemed apt, Reilly said.
“When he was with the fire department, every time the fire alarm went off he used to go to the firehouse in his tractor with his siren on, so that’s why we are doing this in his name,” Reilly noted.
About 20 tractors of all sizes and styles lined up outside McReilly’s Resort on Route 145 for the start of the charity run, some boasting floats and flags of the U.S., Ireland, and specific counties in the Emerald Isle.
The tractors drove down Route 145, made their way to The Milk Run, and then back to the Michael Quill Irish Cultural and Sports Centre.
Sonia Reilly said her husband planned the tractor run with some friends and wanted to give back to the community — with a nod to the island where these runs are so popular.
“They do tractor runs all the time in little villages in Ireland to raise money for charity,” Sonia Reilly said. “They are very popular.”
Some people brought multiple tractors to the run, while others were looking for a tractor to drive.
“The people driving the tractors are mostly people from New York City who have properties and tractors up here,” she said. “They live in the city and come up here on the weekends, and there are some locals here, too. There is one guy here with six tractors. People with multiple tractors are loaning them out to people who want to drive them.”
Durham resident Tom McKiernan stood on the side of the road waiting for the run to start. Curiosity brought him out, he said.
“My wife and I came out and we brought our friend from Texas to watch the event,” McKiernan said. “We wanted to see what it was all about.”
Here are more photos from the tractor run: