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Local Treks

Monday, 26 May 2008

13 Ways of Looking at a Parade

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  1. Click on image for a larger version
    The setup - if you're driving in, free parking is usually only a good stroll away. Look for a municipal public parking lot, or a regional transportation parking lot.  Better yet, if you can walk, go for it.  This time, the walk was part of the fun, as we spotted floats and marchers headed towards the parade's start and tried to guess what they were marching for.

  2. Whoever gets the most flags wins - flags? Always in fashion - and now available in a variety of styles and colors!  Look for parade volunteers walking the route with extras, or bring your own.  They're a great way to  join in all the parade goodness, from the sidelines.  Not a flag person?  Try a hat, or other goofy gear.  Wave real hard and cheer when you see a veteran, teacher, nurse, or other hero.  Not a bad policy off the parade route too.
    Click on image for a larger version

  3. Finding your height -  We've found that the best places for long-term parade-watching are walls bordering a church or office building.  They're flat, wide, and good for both sitting and (if you're not blocking the kids on the hill behind you) standing. They get you above the crowd too.  Don't feel like you must bring a folding chair - often a picnic blanket or a beach towel and a good wall will provide more flexibility.
  4. Getting a seat (Caution. May require arriving earlier each successive year)  - Parades usually happen on days when everyone is off of work, guaranteeing parade-route crowds (because if a parade happens with no one to see it, … um ?).  Arriving a half-hour early, or earlier, is a good idea.  If not all of you are ready to go, send a runner to hold the spot with your picnic blanket.  Bring the runner a big cup of coffee when you get there.

  5. Short attention spans - local parades are filled with stops and starts.  Our professionally-produced-attention-span culture can get a little wonked by this, but it is actually a good thing.  See? Not everything has to go off perfectly, everytime. Or anywhere close. Still, bringing a favorite toy or book with you in a daypack, along with some snacks, has its advantages.

  6. Heat & other practicalities -  Sunscreen. Bottles of water. 'nuf said. Hats too - festive or otherwise.  And not just for the kids.  We're out of diapers, so scoping out local shops that allow a speedy potty break is also required.  Even though we didn't use it, I knew where they were, and approximately how long it would take to get there.  A change of clothes was also in our pack, just in case.  Add the ever-present "Who needs to go before we leave the house?" "NOT ME!" conversation, and you're us.

  7. The view from the curb - about halfway through, she wanted off the wall.  Another family made space for her (complete with a teenaged older sister - suh-weet! Babysitter material!) and she got down to foot-paw-and-hoof level.  That close-up view was a great change of pace, and bought us some more time.

  8. What's with all the cars, anyway? - A modern parade has lots of vehicles.  Old cars, cars-with-waving-people, trucks carrying officials and veterans, random cars with signs and advertising masquerading as community service (seriously. UGH.).  With the exception of the fire-engines, these often don't have the eye-grabbing impact of the bands and animals.  Talking about the vehicles, who in the family might have driven or ridden in one (the Ford Cobra was easy, the horse-drawn Connestoga wagon? Not So Much), or why the people in the old truck were all wearing the same color helps.  If not?  Grab the toys for a few minutes.  Or the flags.
  9. Marching bands - The first band came to a long stop just in front of us, and marched in place for a few minutes.  Consternation ensued, and there were shouts of "Play Something!" (from nearby adults).  When they swung into action, with flags, drumline, brass, and woodwinds, she was transfixed, but also a little bothered by the loud.  Covering her ears with her hands fixed that - and she was good to go.  Now she wants a base drum.

  10. Horses - guaranteed good times.  Especially if you have a toddler and can talk about the steaming pile of poop that remains after the horses pass.  Good times indeed.

  11. Dogs - more and more dogs are getting into the parade routes, even as horses seem to grow few and far between.  Look for the fancy ones, or the dressed up ones.  The retriever with the graduation cap in one of the old cars? Totally cracked her up.

  12. Politicians - they're out there, and they're going to try to kiss your kid.  Preferably in front of a camera.  We prepped her with some go-to words of greeting like, "why don't the city schools have enough paper?" and "my teacher needs good healthcare, ok?"

  13. Click on image for a larger version
    The getaway - whether you're the type to jump out early or a wait-until-the-crowds-clear person (and if you have a toddler, it likely doesn't matter one jot what you are, you're going when they're ready to go), parking far from the parade, or walking in has yet another advantage - you aren't blocked in.  And walking back to the car?  A perfect time for that flag-waving shoulder ride.
Click on image for a larger version
Click on image for a larger version
Posted in Americas : June-Aug. : March-May : Toddler : Young Child by Fran W. at 5:20 PMPermalink

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