Tractor-riding Peres kicks off Jerusalem Parade

Estimated 25,000 marchers attend agriculturally-themed parade in honor of 41st anniversary of city's reunification.

peres tractor 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
peres tractor 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
President Shimon Peres led an agriculturally-themed parade in honor of the 41st anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, riding an antique tractor out of Independence Park. The "Pioneers Salute to Jerusalem" parade, attended by an estimated 25,000 marchers, was a collaboration between 53 regional councils and the Jerusalem Municipality. A youthful crowd of religious and nonreligious Jews from kibbutzim, moshavim, youth groups and schools filled the park with waves of matching T-shirts and Israeli flags. Earlier in the day, many of those groups had taken organized tours of the city. Shmeuel Rifman, chairman of the Association of Regional Councils in Israel and one of the organizers of the march, said that the parade, now in its ninth year, was a display of love for the capital. "I believe that the best way to love Jerusalem is to visit Jerusalem," Rifman said. "It's not political." Noa Kamil, 16, from Moshav Be'erotime in the Negev, attended the parade with members of her moshav youth movement, Emek Hefer. They cheered Peres, who will be 85 on August 2, as he mounted his tractor to precede the parade. She appreciated the positive atmosphere of the event and the diversity of the enormous crowd in attendance. "A lot of times you see in the media all the bombs and people protesting against things [in Jerusalem]," Kami said. "It really makes me happy to see different kinds of people come here because they love the country and Jerusalem. It warms the heart." A line of antique tractors of all colors, shapes and sizes followed the president out of the park in a cloud of diesel exhaust, lending a distinctly rural look to the parade. Many of the tractors hauled antique farming equipment behind them. The tractors, as well as a mobile DJ and other parade floats, were to lead the parade to Teddy Stadium for an event featuring musicians Harel Scott, Shiri Maimon and Subliminal, a dance display and the unveiling of a huge float symbolizing Israel in honor of Jerusalem Day. For Zack Seifer, a 19-year-old Magen David Adom volunteer from Toronto who was marching with a small group of Canadian MDA volunteers, the event was a particularly spirited display of Zionism. "It's nice to be at a parade where people actually care," Seifer said.