By Seth Schmidt
Charles Lindberg was a national hero, and Babe Ruth was swinging toward a historic 60-home run season, the summer Tracy celebrated its first Box Car Days.
“Tracy was put on the map last Friday and Saturday as a railroad center by the institution of the first Box Car Days,” gushed the Tracy Headlight-Herald, in its Sept. 9, 1927 edition.
The newspaper declared that town boosters would make Box Car Days an annual event.
The prediction has been fulfilled. This coming Labor Day weekend, Tracy will celebrate its 90th Box Car Days. Since 1927, Tracy has failed to host Box Car Days only once. In 1946, Box Car Days was cancelled due to a polio epidemic. Today, Tracy Box Car Days is among Minnesota’s longest-running town celebrations.
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Concerts by city bands from Lamberton and Garvin, baseball games, vaudeville acts, tent shows, a carnival dance, and a parade made up the first Box Car Day.
Dr. Warner Workmen led the first parade on horseback. A Chicago & Northwestern float entry, which thrilled spectators with a stack of belching black smoke, was one of 31 parade entries. The first parade route began on Park St., before going west on Emory, South on Fourth, west on South, and north on Third. Entries included a new Chevrolet from Peyer Motors, and an 1884 fire truck. Kelly Furniture, Richard’s Dept. Store, and Smith’s Bakery were among the local business floats. Scores of children followed in a “kiddie parade.” Ruth Blakeslee, Esther Thompson, Stella Smarzik, Ruth Jacobs, Agnes Starr, Gladys Hansen and Laura Starr were earned first-place comic honors for their entry “city council.” Mary Catherine O’Brien topped the float category with “Lindy’s First Ride.”
Big crowds gathered to watch a Tracy town team beat rival Granite falls, before losing to a visitors from Merrill, Iowa. A hard-throwing Tennessean named Deacan House was Tracy’s star player.
The cancellation of a keynote speech by Lt. Gov. W. I Nolan, whose wife died unexpectedly, was the only reported glitch in the 1927 Box Car Days.
For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.