The Knights of Columbus Journey for Charity will roll through Franklin County Sunday, Sept. 8, and this time they are carrying hardware.
The tractor ride organizers recently were recognized with the international community service award by the Knights of Columbus.
“This fires everybody up,” said Union Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Rich Bolzenius. “This refreshens everybody.”
Bolzenius also is the sponsorship chairman for the tractor cruise.
The 30-mile cruise is held each year to help raise money and collect food for area pantries. The Washington, Union, St. Clair and St. John’s-Gildehaus Knights of Columbus councils all take part in the event.
Last year there was $19,000 raised, along with 1,000 pounds of food. Both of which are distributed among local food pantries.
Since its inception, the charity cruise has raised $72,000, Bolzenius added.
The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Ozark Die Casting on Lofting Drive in St. Clair with a blessing of the fleet by Father Bob Knight of St. Clare Catholic Church. Following the blessing, at about 10:30-45 a.m., tractors will begin their cruise.
During the cruise, there will be service vehicles collecting canned and nonperishable food items or cash donations along the route, said planning committee member John Jasper.
“That way the food pantries will have food to immediately put on the shelves Monday morning,” Bolzenius added.
Last year, there were more than 80 tractors that took part in the cruise, and even more are expected this year.
“We won’t know until we take off,” said Jasper.
Organizer encourage participants to preregister so they won’t have to wait in line the morning of the ride.
“There is an incentive to come in and enjoy the morning,” Bolzenius said.
Participation is $30 and collecting $100 in donations is suggested, though not required.
“Whatever they can get really adds up Sunday,” Jasper said.
The fee provides a T-shirt or hat, a meal ticket and a bus ticket from Washington to St. Clair. Drivers can drop off their tractor in St. Clair, then bring their trailer to Washington where a Mid-American bus will drive them back to St. Clair.
Once the cruise ends, drivers can load their tractors and leave from Washington. Drivers do not have to be a part of the Knights of Columbus to join the cruise.
Those who don’t want to cruise the entire route can meet at the Union Knights of Columbus Hall, he noted. Tractors should be arriving at the hall at about noon.
The Union council also will have breakfast that morning from 7-11 a.m.
According to Jasper, the Missouri State Highway Patrol will guide the cruise, and each local police department helps with traffic during the event. The riders also are assisted by emergency medical technicians who ride the route.
To register a tractor, people may call Jasper at 314-581-6968, Bolzenius at 314-808-4928, or planning committee member Gary Thompson at 314-808-4928.
All riders, and those who donate food along the route, will receive a souvenir dash plaque with the Journey for Charity logo. The plaque will be a collector’s item and will mark the year of the event, Jasper said.
The cruise organizers were recognized in early August with the 2013 International Council Activity Award at the 131st annual international convention of the Knights of Columbus held in San Antonio.
Jasper said they were recognized at the state convention in May with the state community service award, which made it eligible for the international award.
There were 54 other organizations that qualified for the international award.
“It is a worldwide award,” he said. “It is the highest possible award that can be achieved.”
Bolzenius accepted the award where he met with Missouri Knights of Columbus leaders.
“This is the only time they have seen it (an international award) at the state level,” he said.
There are some changes to the event this year, including an expanded route.
Following is the route, including the changes.
The parade begins at Ozark Die Casting and will turn onto Route TT.
The tractors will proceed on Commercial Avenue, Main Street, Springfield Avenue, Gravois Avenue, North Service Road, Highway AB and Happy Sac Road. The route then follows Route AD, North Bend Road, Clearview Road and Highway 50 West.
In Union the tractors will head west to Independence, then travel on Old Highway 50 to West Main Street. Tractors will take a right on West Main back toward Independence then head North to West Park Road. Tractors will circle around the Sunset Health Care Center then head back to Park Street toward North Washington Avenue From there, tractors will travel on North Washington to Main Street, then east toward the courthouse to North Church.
From Church Street, tractors will go right on Independence, then cross over 47 and head to Highway V, Clearview Road, Bethlehem Church Road, North Goodes Mill Road to South Point Road. From there, tractors will travel on Highway 100 to Fifth Street, then to High Street, Front Street, and take Tiemann Drive to North Grand, Fifth Street, and will follow Clay Street back to the Knights of Columbus Hall in Washington, where the route ends.
Tractor drivers will arrive at the Washington Knights of Columbus at about 3 p.m. where a celebration will take place.
A barbecue will be held as well as a pedal tractor pull for children. The barbecue is open to the public and donations will be accepted.