Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The Amazing 2007 Quincy Christmas Parade!
(Originally posted in LaGremlin Land on 11/27/07.)
I don't think I mentioned, in the previous "Operation Santa Drop" feature, that here in the City of Presidents, tossing Santa out of a plane and having him parachute into town and hang out with scary furries is basically just a *prologue*! Ah, yes, the real main attraction of Thanksgiving Weekend in Quincy happens on the following Sunday afternoon: The Quincy Christmas Festival Parade.
I've been meaning to write about this for several years now but it never seemed to be the right time. This year was different. You will see, oh you will see. I'll save the super special thing that made this parade unique until the end.
Truth be told, the Parade actually is different every year. As far as I know, all the floats and costumes are made by local organizations. As a matter of fact, I the better part of my high school career designing, building, and sewing stuff for our school's float, so I'm intimately aware of the work that goes into the stuff you'll see here. All the more impressive when you remember that this is the fifty-fifth parade - and all the *more* more impressive when you realize that not all of those years were in a row.
This is a pretty picture-heavy feature, just so you know. Now, I'm not the best photographer and I'm not armed with the best camera. I'll make up for the quality with sheer quantity.
We'll start with a quick look at the calm before the storm. The parade officially starts at 12:30PM, but it takes some time to get to my part of town, where I was staked out. Note that the wise among us bring chairs. You'll notice, after a while, that I'm not the kind of person who can stand in one spot for very long.
Certainly, the vendors are the unsung heroes of the Parade. The sheer variety of weird stuff on sale in the carts - and the sheer amount of it - is damned impressive. You can't help but wonder what they do with the leftovers afterwards.
Now the pretzels are something with which I have loaded with lots of wonderful childhood memories. Therefore, I currently have a soft spot for large pretzels. Ahh… salty goodness. Oh, cool, the Parade's starting!
You know, this picture handily sums up what the Quincy Christmas Festival parade is all about: Color Guards, unexpected groups of people being festive, and terrifying costumed characters. The two imps above are known, imaginatively enough, as the Christmas Bears. I think I'll use them to kick off a salute to my favorites and yours, the League of Extraordinarily Scary Costumed Characters. You remember them, right?
I will still insist on calling these two Michael and Lisa Marie. Deal.
By far, the best of the worst of these costumes are the ones who are meant to invoke a beloved childhood character without, you know, infringing on that pesky ol' copyright. And so here is… Cobalt the Hint-Leaving Dog. And the first of many, many old, old pre-emissions-testing-era cars, the Paddy Wagon.
Never mind the possibly unfounded indignation for now. Here's McGruff the Crime Dog and his barely-remembered nephew Scruff riding in another classic car. Aside from attending several D.A.R.E. events, the highlight of this League member's career was when one of the editors at the local cable access station misidentified him as "The Crmie Dog". I've been looking for ways to stick the new word "crmie" into casual conversations ever since.
Straddling the unsettling line between costumed characters and normal (by walking-in-a-parade standards) people are the Aleppo Shriners Clown Unit. I happened to be standing next to a teenaged Coulrophobe during this segment of the parade. It was entertaining to say the least…
This fellow's name is Rick Cobban and he has appeared in every parade in recent memory, bless his heart. He's got at least seven different stilt-walking costumes and he brings a different one out each year. Before I knew about him, I was not even aware that there was more than one kind of costume available for stilt-walkers. Now I know and my life is the better for it. Thank you, Rick!
Curiously, Uncle Sam was nowhere to be seen in this year's parade. He usually attends the show in some form or other. How can the Parade spirits make up for his absence?
Why, giant smelly horses of course! They're a good patriotic symbol, so they can fill the vacant Uncle Sam niche (just go with it). It's possible that these Clydesdales were the first horses I ever saw in person (or in equine rather) as a little girl. If this is true, it goes a long way in explaining why I don't get this thing most girls have about horses. I mean, yikes…
Here's the Totorelli Calliope. The Parade paused for a few minutes when it arrived, so I got to get a nice long look at it's mechanical workings. It's a darned impressive feat of engineering.
People, in general, would be happier if there were more events during the year that involve calliopes.
And if there were more events that involve glockenspiels - which I managed to spell correctly off the top of my head according to my word processor. Woah. Anyway, this is the David Prouty High School band. Truth be told, there are quite a lot of bands who march in the Parade every year. Prouty High will represent all eighteen of them; they have the coolest costumes.
These classic cars (I am to understand that they are cool) form the bulk of the later parts of the Parade. Honestly, I always felt they were filler. You know what I said about not getting the thing some girls have over horses? That goes triple for cars.
But everyone loves the American Federation of Musicians. They're in every parade, they've got the same float, and they're adorable. You may wonder why I point out the fact that these fellows use the same float every year. Well, most of the other organizations entering floats build a brand new float from scratch each Parade. Certainly, the floats are the main event. Some of this year's highlights:
Woodward School's candy train! My high school won the Grand Prize this year for this cute entry.
Eastern Bank's pirate ship! I'm not sure how this fits the "Christmas Traditions" theme but it is fun. And it must have taken a lot of time to build the boat. I am impressed.
I'm not sure which bank contributed this float, but it's very pretty and it's probably my favorite. Let it never be said that banks don't have a sense of humor.
Actually, this might be my favorite float of all time. See, the good folks at Nanci's Barber Shop have made the ultimate un-ironic Quincy Christmas Float. Most of the floats I didn't include here are, truth be told, usually just a bunch of people and holiday-ish thingies piled on a trailer and pulled down Hancock Street. These barbers probably realized this and thought, "well, hell, WE could be in the Parade! Let's do it!" I would love to see a whole new generation of Parade attractions in the mold of this here float.
Now, there actually was a main attraction this year, which is unusual for this Parade. Wally the Green Monster has been a part of the Parade for the last few years and, I have to say, he's probably the cutest sports mascot around. All the other mascots are kind of eerie, but Wally looks like he'd be at home on "Sesame Street". Wally is also the herald of this year's main attraction…
ZOMG, it's CURT SCHILLING!!!!
Schilling got the kind of reception usually reserved for… for… Gosh, I don't know; you'd think Elvis, Bigfoot, and Extraterrestrial visitors were in that car...
So if Santa seems a little downhearted here, I understand why. Hey, maybe Curt Schilling helped us win the Series, but did he parachute into town??? I think not. Advantage: Claus.
Once again, hurrah for me living in a city that does this!!!
Happy Holidays to all!
I posted these last two features this week because Quincy kicks off it's Christmas season on Thanksgiving weekend, naturally. So if you're in the area, go check 'em out.
Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!