September 13, 2005

Labor Day Parade

On Sunday evening, I and a few others, including some youth, gathered at the church to decorate our float for the Labor Day Parade, which kicked off at 10:00 the following morning. This year, I made the executive decision to decorate wagons instead of a giant flat-bed trailer. In years' past, a handful of kids and a couple of parents would turn out to help decorate the float, but after the parade, I was usually alone when it came time to undecorate. Breaking down the float is never as glamorous as decorating it, especially in the 100-degree heat that seems to arrive every year just in time for Labor Day.

This year, as we were decorating the wagons, one of the youth asked if he could ride his motorbike in the parade behind the wagons, along with a friend of his. "Yeah, sure," I said, "as long as your parents are responsible for getting you to the parade line-up, finding me, and then retrieving you and your bike at the end of the parade."

"No problem," they said.

Monday morning arrived. The previous years' heat was absent; the daytime high was only expected to reach 89, a few degrees below normal. Tristan, my 4 year-old, was patiently waiting in his decorated wagon for the parade to start and for me to pull him down Nicolaus Rd. Several other youth and children were there also, with a second decorated wagon.

At a few minutes before ten, the kids with the motorbikes arrived. They brought friends with them, which brought the total number of motorbikes to five. As they waited for the parade to start, they revved their engines and rode around in tiny circles behind the wagons. They spun around on the base of the levee next to the road, kicking up a giant cloud of dust. I watched the dust cloud rise up into the air; at first it looked as though it would keep rising straight up, and dissipate. But then, it began to drift. It drifted right past me, back over the road where the parade was lined up, and moved on down the road as if it were its own entry in the parade, but was too impatient for the parade to start.

The dust cloud began to settle back down to the ground. I looked ahead to see where it would land. Oh, no, I thought; there, directly in front of me, in a bright red convertible sports car, with her pretty white dress and sparkling tiara, sat "Little Miss Northern California."

As Tristan put his hands over his ears to block out the noise of the motorbikes (not to mention the angry yelling of "Little Miss Northern California's" driver), I started humming to myself, thinking that if anyone asks, I'll just deny that I even know those kids on the motorbikes.

Slowly, our procession began to move. At two different locations on the parade route, there were announcers, and they had lists of the parade entries, in order, with a description that they read into the microphone. As we passed by, the announcers at both locations saw our decorated wagons and began reading the description: "Fairview Community Christian Church and St. Boniface Catholic Church have once again joined together for this year's parade...." Then the announcers added their own commentary; at one of the locations, it was something like, "Oh, look! With the kids is Pastor Danny! Pastor Danny is very involved in our community...."

Then, each of the announcers looked at the kids on motorbikes, looked back down at their list, and then back at the kids; and then they called out to the kids on the bikes, "And who are you?"

When I heard that, I picked up my pace, trying to put a little distance between me and them, but of course that did no good; I was, after all, on foot, and they had motorbikes. I waited for their response, hoping that they'd just say their names, or even make something up. Instead, they looked over to the announcer (both times), pointed forward to me, and simply said, "We're with him."

At this, the announcer at the first location said, "Oh, OK." The announcer at the second location, however, exclaimed into her microphone, "My! Church sure has changed, hasn't it!"

And I just smiled and waved. The kids smiled and waved. And the spectators applauded.

No comments: