Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

76 Trombones

I never liked parades, until I had kids.

I find myself ending a lot of sentences that way now. I never ate chicken nuggets, until I had kids. I never ate someone else's leftover PB&J. I never thought of Elmo as a great time saver. I never decorated my house with construction paper. I never put sprinkles on pizza and I never woke up before the sun to stake out a great spot for a local parade.

Until I had kids.

In smaller towns everything is a little heightened. The less people in a town, it seems, the more connected to the community each person feels. An easy ratio: As population increases, the amount of 'city per capita' must decrease. This concept is never more apparent than in the small town festival.

As soon as we moved to Bountiful, we started hearing about The Parade. Whispers of its grandeur and spectacle rivaled those of Macy's Thanksgiving and The Rose. When we said that we may be out of town during Bountiful's Handcart Days, we were cautioned not to miss this crowning event and promised that we would not be disappointed.
Some new friends of mine started hatching plans to stake out their prime spot for the parade. City ordinance dictates that you cannot place chairs, blankets, etc. on the parade route before 7:00 am on the day of The Parade. The Parade starts at six. PM. My friends warned me though, that to secure a spot on the shady side of the street, in full view of The Parade's magical wonder and be in position to catch candy thrown from said wonder, a certain amount of strategy would be necessary. I love grandeur. I love plans. I love new friends. I was in.

I woke up several minutes before my alarm went off at 4:45 am. I through on some pants, grabbed a blanket and stepped onto what I expected to be a quiet street. Instead, I was practically cut off by a man pushing a stroller loaded with blankets, camp chairs and child followed closely by his tank-topped wife and two 44 oz sodas. I felt like I had stepped off Platform 9 and 3/4 into an entirely different, but wonderful world where parades are the driving motivation.

My competitive nature kicked in at this point and I started to walk faster but then noticed Emily, one of my friends, coming out of her house. When we reached Main Street we were not even close to the first ones there. People were sleeping on the grass lining the street and pacing near prime spots like leopards waiting to leap on the young, unexpected zebra, aka the grass in front of the bank. Every now and then the police would come by to enforce the 'no placing of the blankets before 7 am' ordinance and everyone would jump off of the parade route and act nonchalant about the fact that we were all out there, in the dark, for no reason (especially not the parade!) holding folding chairs. Meanwhile, I could feel the tension amongst the other parade goers around us. Where we going to take their spots? Were they going to encroach ours? We had been here since 5 for crying out loud. If you slept in till 6:15 that's not our fault! Lazy! Small discourses on how many people were in each group or how far our theoretically claimed area was or needed to be floated up and down the street right along with the early morning mist.

At 6:57 someone decided it was go time and as soon as that first blanket took flight to spread itself over the greatest area of prime real estate, everyone else was in instant motion. By 6:59 every inch of the west side of the street was covered and claimed. We took precautions, as did others, against crafty "chair ruslers" by tying pink caution tape (ribbon) around our secured spot.

The weekend after The Parade we headed to Bear Lake. Despite the lack of cleanliness of our condo, we had a great time at the beach with my extended family. Water + sand+ bucket = happy kids. We managed to be there for the annual Raspberry Days celebrations and had fun cruising the craft booths at the fair, putting the little girls on the train and of course, attending the local parade.  My dad and I rented a couple of wave runners and tore it up on the lake for an hour.  Ahhhh sweet adrenaline, how I missed you.

I was nervous when we drove out to the beach in the morning of the Raspberry Day parade and there were chairs set up along one side of the street. I thought it was going to be The Parade all over again. Luckily, when we got to the parade route about 15 minutes before the start we found a spot on the sunny side of the street just as a cloud accommodated us with coverage. This was the perfect parade. It was only about 20 minutes long start to finish. The floats (trucks), though not impressive, were stocked with high energy riders, streamers, and most importantly, candy. Lots of candy. I am talking the high quality stuff, no tootsie rolls here, friends. And they weren't stingy. Just across the street from us a 30-something man was standing up holding a full size cooler yelling "hit me! I'm local!" and they did. I don't doubt that he filled more than half of his giant igloo. The candy, even the immense quantity, wasn't the most impressive. Also thrown out from floats were bags of baby carrots (we got 4), water bottles, t-shirts (mine says "Quick and Tasty" advertising a local burger and shake joint, though I wonder if it would be misunderstood outside of town), toys, hats, sunglasses and plastic rings. It was like Halloween! Only better. The candy came to us and the candy providers were the ones who had to dress up. It was perfect.

The last spectacle of the Raspberry Days parade was a group of ponies, yaks, llamas, bulls, goats and sheep. The little girls were going crazy at all the woolly wonder. One woman, leading a saddled pony saw Lily and Anna and asked if they wanted to ride in the parade. Um, do they breathe oxygen? The girls could have been in heaven. They rode a pony in a real parade. Perfection.

But what about The Parade? Was the next day of me being the Wicked Mom of the West worth it? Would I do it again? When you move to a new area it doesn't take much to get you excited about hanging out with some cool people. Waking up early to hang with Amy and Emily was worth it. They are some of the coolest. The Parade was long with long spaces in between each feature. Each float would either throw no candy or ONE PIECE to a group of twenty kids. No one would throw it down to the curb either, they made the kids run into street to collect (the ONE piece! Stingy much?) and Lily peed on the blanket. Next year? I'll sleep in and use those two hours driving up to Bear Lake during Raspberry Days. But if you're going up for shakes, stay local. Tony's Burgers in Centerville makes the best raspberry shake around, from real Bear Lake raspberries. It might be the 2 cups of real cream I saw them pour on the top of mine. Maybe not. It might just be the twice fried french fries I ate it with.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

RIng a Bell?