Thousands of people lined Geyserville's main drag Saturday night to cheer the lighted tractor and truck parade and unofficially ring in the Christmas season.

A massive 20-foot fir tree was lighted with multi-color bulbs while Santa Claus greeted children and handed out candy canes.

"This is the quintessential small town thing," said Erin Radelfinger, who came from Healdsburg with her husband and two small children to eat out and watch the parade.

After months of work, event coordinator Karen Waedle said it's a treat to see the fire trucks, tractors, flat beds and utility vehicles all lit up.

"It's so cool to see them up," she said. "I've been in Geyserville 33 years. This is my town. I love Christmas. I want it to be bigger and better."

The third annual event, sponsored by the Geyserville Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Sonoma County Locals Unlimited, featured the tree lighting, Santa visit and parade, but also opened the doors of businesses that line the town's main drag to thousands of people.

"There are a lot of people who don't know we are here. It's about education," said Nancy Manning, a gallery volunteer at Terranean Gallery on Geyserville Avenue.

Aside from the boost in foot traffic, the spectacle of the event and the bonhomie it sparks are real, she said.

"The community, everyone coming together, it's really meaningful," she said. "It takes work, they worked hard, and we appreciate it."

Delisle Enterprises took the first annual "Best of Show" trophy Saturday night for a display that included an inflated Santa, his sleigh and reindeer attached to a massive bucket loader that shimmied and shook its way into the evening sky to the oohs of the crowd.

"I think that was my favorite part," said John Mitouer, 11, of Rohnert Park.

Mitouer and his family came up for the parade and an evening with friends who live in Geyserville.

"Right after Thanksgiving, it's nice to do something like this," John's dad, Seth Mitouer, said.

While doors remained open into the night, not all shopkeepers reported merchandise flying off the shelf — but that is beside the point, said Brad Beard, owner of Mercury Wine on Geyserville Avenue.

"I'm not sure it's good for business, but it's good for the soul. We had people five deep watching tractors all decked out," he said as people milled around drinking wine and eating warm foods from crock pots.

"It's really quite amazing that this little town can get this many people to turn out for 12 tractors driving by and waving at you," he said.

Outside Mercury, a crowd remained well after the last of the lighted machines had rolled by. As normal traffic began to filter down Geyserville Avenue, a group began singing "The Christmas Song."

Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at She can be reached at 526-8671, kerry.benefield@press or on Twitter @benefield.