Harmony and good-feeling predominated yesterday as a tractorcade billed as the last that will burden Washington's streets took the American Agriculture Movement's protest to the Federal Reserve Building.
School children and government workers waved and some even cheered in contrast to last Friday's traffic-snarling tractor parade to the White House that enraged many home-bound commuters and resulted in the arrest of four farmers.
Yesterday's demonstration had 119 tractors -- about half the number used last Friday. It began at 10 a.m. and ended about 1 p.m., making relatively little impact on midday traffic.
After it was over, Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson, smiling, nodded approvingly in the farmers' direction and said, "They did a good job."
As the tractors were ringing the Federal Reserve Building at 20th Street and Constitution Avenue to protest high interest rates, a large part of the Mall was reclaimed for public use. Police dismantled much of the barricade of buses and trucks that has impounded the tractors on the Mall since Feb. 5. The barricade remained in place only east of Seventh Street.
The National Park Service plans to send work crews to the Mall today to begin "straightening up," according to a spokesman. Interior Department officials have estimated it will cost about $500,000 to repair the Mall's scarred, churned-up lawns.
Police said 360 tractors remained on the Mall yesterday, but numbers have steadily diminished in recent days and many are expected to leave the Washington area over the weekend, according to police.
Some farmers were saying yesterday that as fast as they can get flatbed trailer trucks into the city, they will be hauling their tractors back across the country for the start of spring planting.
"It's time to get back to the fields. We got bills to pay like anyone else," said John Taylor, a Maryland corn and hog farmer.