October 11, 2005

Labor Day Parade, pt. 2

My computer is currently not working, so posts may be appearing less frequently until I can get the problem resolved. However, here's another story about the Labor Day Parade, which appeared in the local monthly newspaper, The South Sutter Connection. I wrote one previous story about it which you can read here.


I didn't know that there was a banner in the Labor Day Parade. I never assumed that there wasn't a banner; it's just that the thought had never crossed my mind. For six years I've been in the parade, organizing and supervising the kids from Fairview and St. Boniface who want to be in the parade. I've never really given any consideration as to who or what was up in front, leading the procession.

This year, though, my son Ethan was invited to join his cub scout pack in leading the parade and carrying the banner. His invitation reminded me of my own experience in carrying a parade banner many years ago. Back when I was in high school and in boy scouts, my friend Eddie and I were asked to carry the banner for the "Burbank on Parade," which is a lot like the Nicolaus Labor Day Parade, except that it's longer by about two hours. I remember lining up at the intersection of Olive Avenue and Alameda Street, right in front of the NBC studios where "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" was taped. Our route headed northeast up Olive Avenue; it crossed Catalina Street (which has since been renamed Bob Hope Drive), passed within a block of Buena Vista Park (which has since been renamed Johnny Carson Park), and ended at Olive Park (which has since been renamed George Izay park; and I have no idea who George Izay is). The entire route was one straight line; nothing complicated.

My friend Eddie lived just off the parade route. As we stood waiting for the parade to start, I entertained myself by imagining what would happen if Eddie and I made a right turn at Verdugo Road and stopped in at his house for a soda. Would the rest of the parade follow? I imagined what Eddie's mom's reaction would be as marching bands, clowns, and horses paraded through her living room, walking right past her collections of wooden ducks and antique milk glass.

I think that maybe, this year, Ethan had similar thoughts. However, being just eight years old, such thoughts were, for him, more frightening than they were entertaining. What if, in leading the parade, he made a wrong turn? How would he know where to turn, which way to stop? What if he unknowingly led the whole parade right up and over the Sierra Nevada, into the Great Basin where the only spectators would be rattlesnakes and coyotes?

I told Ethan that, based on my own experience, I was sure that there would be a police vehicle of some sort to lead the way, and that all he had to do was follow it. My wife also told him that she and some other parents would be walking with the cub scouts, and that they would not be left alone. Ethan was reassured by this. Somewhat. On parade day, he donned his cub scout uniform and joined the other scouts of Pack 174 in leading the Labor Day Parade.

At this point, you may be thinking, "But I don't remember seeing the banner...." Well, apparently, some of that fear still remained in Ethan. That fear was also present in his fellow cub scouts. However, they knew that as long as they followed the police vehicle, they'd be all right. So that's what they did. They were determined not to lose sight of that police vehicle, so they followed, closely. A little too closely, in fact. They followed so closely that the banner became a giant bumper sticker more or less attached to the tailgate of the police vehicle. To see it, one would have had to be in the vehicle with the tailgate lowered, except that in lowering the tailgate, one would have bopped those cub scouts on their heads, flattening those heads down below their shoulders and their yellow and blue cub scout neckerchiefs.

That's why you, like me, may not have seen or known about this year's banner. But don't fret; all is good. The parade, thanks to the dedication of so many hard-working volunteers, was a success, and when it was over, we all enjoyed a delicious lunch, listened to the band, admired the giant vegetables, and scratched our heads at the windchimes made of beer cans. The kids enjoyed the bounce house and the games, and we left, tired, but happy.

See you at next year's parade!

1 comment:

Lorna said...

beautifully written - made me laugh and wince at the same time. thanks