Monday, January 17, 2011

The Christmas Parade

Dear Friends,
You may be wondering why I am writing about the Town Christmas parade while it is still going on...  First let me set the scene...

Town is a small town south and west of the middle of Kansas. By small I mean the business district is two blocks long. The whole day has been a successful series of events to draw customers into town. All the businesses had sales. There was a craft fair in three of the empty buildings. A church is fixing lunch and delivering orders to the merchants who would normally close for lunch. Half a dozen groups set up food booths in Main Street. Each featured a different cuisine. Even the lawyers office had a special deal going on: tax planning forms.

Wife had the Grand Opening of her store today. The newspaper showed up with a photographer and the Chamber of Commerce and ribbon to have the official ribbon cutting ceremony. Don't be too impressed with their organization though... the membership certificate they offered us during the ceremony had the other new businesses name on it. The chamber president hustled back to the other place and in two minutes all was corrected. We had about a hundred visitors and 50 paying customers.

Our building is about 25 feet from the dead center of town. We are on the corner of the intersection between the two blocks. At that point, the dead center of town, Town has set up a fair sized Christmas tree, along with enough sand bags to keep it from blowing away in the 40-mph winds we regularly have here... You have it now, right? Huge tree. huge pile of sand bags, Center of the intersection, center of town.  Twenty degrees, twenty mph wind, 6:30 p.m., Dark, with every float covered in lights.

The pre-parade parade included the Grinch who stole Christmas in his own sleigh, the Cat in the Hat, Big Bird, the Cowardly lion, and the Tin Man, drifting up and down the main street giving out candy. At the same time awards were being handed out for the clubs that decorated ALL of the windows of the businesses. There must have been several categories as I heard at least six first prizes awarded.

Suddenly, a dozen, middle age to elderly, men in mixed military uniforms came sweeping down the street bearing the American flag and the flags of Kansas and the American Legion. They were past me and down the street before I even thought to remove my hat and put my hand over my heart.

A minute or so later the grand marshall drove past in his bright yellow 1949 Studebaker pickup, with kids tossing candy. A minute or so later (next) a church float with a cardboard model of their church and an inflatable nativity scene and kids tossing candy, followed by a 1930's vintage fire truck carrying the volunteer fire department and kids throwing candy. Then... with kids throwing candy and ... with kids throwing candy... there was an enormous Snow plow with Santa... throwing candy... trying to get down the street without taking out the christmas tree or the corner of the building across the street. It was followed by an even larger vehicle with huge wheels and steerable axles trying the same maneuver. The marching girl scouts were the only kids NOT throwing candy. The Lawn Mower Racing Association (riding lawnmowers), making more noise than NASCAR thundered through town along with several, real life big-wheel dragsters. There were two dozen floats, all with  christmas trees, nativities, and wondrous displays of lights and decorations.

Now I suppose you are asking why I am writing while the parade is still going on? The answer is: Everyone had so much fun the first time, they circled the two blocks and came back (except for the men with the flags) for another go. the yellow Studebaker... the church and inflatable nativity... the snowplow... the girl-scouts, the dragsters, the Lawn Mower Racing Association  and on and on and on,,, all I can figure is the kids didn't get rid of all the candy on the first pass. I hear the dragsters and the racing lawn mowers shutting down, so festivities must be winding down.

Wife watched the second pass of the parade from our bedroom window. (We live in the loft of our business.) She says I missed the lawnmowers racing association's race around the Christmas tree... well, maybe next year.

There are a number of unused Catholic churches in the area. They were built by the German immagrants that settled the area in the last quarter of the 1800’s. All except one have a loyal volunteer group to keep it up. Every year, one has a concert featuring Handle’s Messiah. The stage, The alter of The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church... in the middle of nowhere. The church was the center of an immigrant German community which has now dispersed. It sits on the top of a hill. With the 100 foot spire, it is visable for many miles in any direction. The music was uplifting, moving, inspirational. 

What was the closing line from "A Christmas Carol"? Was it "...and ever after it was said Ebinezer Scrooge knew how to keep Christmas"?

Well, I'm thinking, Town knows how to keep Christmas.
Your friend, Rob

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