Saturday, March 5, 2011

I LOVE a Parade! (Alpacas... Not so Much)

Vestal Golden Bears Marching Band St. Patrick's Day Parade March 5, 2011
It’s 'almost' springtime in the Northeast.  Soon the deep-freeze of the winter months will fade into distant memory as lawns once again grow lush, green, and full of moles.  Bunnies will magically re-appear and this year's crop of Mayflies will begin to rut ceaselessly in my garage during their 24 hours of sexual carnage.  
It is time to celebrate the cycle of re-birth accompanying the upcoming spring.  What better time to shrug off your winter clothes, find some shorts, tee shirts, and salute the things that symbolize this great nation of ours?  Small towns all over America will be ‘gussying’ up their downtowns and bringing out law enforcement, fire departments, high school bands, young gymnasts, farm equipment, and barnyard animals.  
Unfortunately, they won't be bringing them out in that order. 
The Vestal Festival is held annually in my town of Vestal, New York.  Local residents come from miles around to eat ‘Speidies’, buy crafts, and spend time with their neighbors.  It is an American celebration in the truest sense.  We celebrate our town’s heritage, our neighbors, our kids, and the things which make America great.  

In my town of Vestal, these specific things include Marching Bands, Alpacas, Tootsie Rolls, bath tubs, and tractors.   
When I was young I would join other members of my Boy Scout Troop and march in three to four parades a year.  Now it’s time for my youngest son to march with his high school marching band.  You can see him in the photo above marching with his trumpet in today's St. Patrick's Day Parade.  

A couple of things have changed since I marched in my last parade: 
  1. 1.  At some point between the time I stopped marching in parades and each of my sons began; someone decided it would be a good idea to throw Tootsie Rolls, Fire Balls, and Starburst candies to children along the parade route.  We never lobbed food products at parade-watchers when I was a kid.
  2. 2.  Someone also decided that it would be funny to throw the candy as CLOSE to the tires of moving tractors, farm trucks, and fire trucks as possible.  In a true test of youthful agility, kids will shoot out sporadically from the curb into the street to grab their booty.  They do this to pull candy (which they wouldn’t eat from their own grandmother’s candy dish) out from under the rolling wheels of multi-ton vehicles.
  3. Moms and Dads cheer as children scrabble out onto the macadam to retrieve their $ .06 worth of free 'bootie'.  
  4. Memorable quotes such as:  “Marcie, look at Bobby!  He almost bought it that time under the tractor – but he’s a quick little booger!” can be heard shouted along the parade route.

I never marched in a parade with Alpacas, horses, or other live stock – but each of my sons has.  Going out on a limb, I’m assuming that the planners of the event would pay a bit of attention to the order of placement of these particular parade participants.  

Let me ask you this:  If YOU are planning a dinner to impress your boss, you wouldn’t put the desert out ahead of the main course, wold you?  AND, what if the desert smelled 'bad'?  Might that not ruin the ambiance of the event???  

Likewise, if you are planning a parade, you would know enough to have ‘marchers’, ‘critters’ and ‘machines’ in their proper order.    
In the example of the Vestal Festival, putting livestock towards the END of the parade vs. having it scattered throughout the procession might be a wise planning decision.  During the course of the past several years parade organizers have placed marching bands and gymnastic schools behind horses, alpacas, and other barnyard animals.  When it comes to ‘critters’, hoof prints are not the only things left on the roadway following their ‘passing’.  In actuality, these animals ‘pass’ quite a lot along the parade route.   
While the kids in the marching band avoid 'most' alpaca and horse pooh, my mind flashes back to last year's unsuspecting boys and girls from the local gymnastics academy. They sprinted down the parade route in spotless white tights doing cartwheels and flips, smiling as they pinwheeled over and over again, having no idea of the horror which waited for them 'further' ahead.  
They bounded around the corner onto Front Street as they flipped themselves to walk on their hands for this section of the parade.  

The following will be forever burned into my memory:  
  • Scores of children walking on their hands around, over, and 'through' piles of freshly deposited ‘organic matter’
  • Parents clutching each other and onlookers screaming from the curb, “Don’t slip Bobby – for the love of God, don’t slip!”  
  • No one did, but it’ll be years before those kids eat fried chicken or corn on the cob with their hands again.  
Personally speaking, I will never shake the hand of any gymnast.
If anyone involved in the Vestal Festival takes a moment to read this post, please put the ‘beasties’ at the end of the parade, rather than 'sprinkled liberally throughout' as in prior years' events.  Our mini-van stills smells like the ‘stable scene’ from our Church Christmas pageant after my two youngest sons walked the Vestal Festival Parade last year. 

The parade is a great event, but I'd rather take the day's excitement home in my memory, rather than embedded in the carpet of our Chrysler Town & Country. 

March on Vestal High Marching Band, march on! 
(Oh, and remember to look down from time to time throughout the parade just in case no one reads this but me and you.) 
News you can use – especially if you’re not from around these parts: 
Behold the mighty alpaca!
Eat the mighty spiedie!

Run in Terror from the Tootsie Roll!
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