Sunday, December 2, 2007

electric light parade

Saturday night was the 21st annual Electric Light Parade! Nearly rained out, nearly stressed out, nearly pooped out, but there was Dave on his antique tractor beaming from ear to ear waving to the crowds with his mighty fine pageant wave.

It's a fun event to attend, estimated average attendance is 200,000. We've been many times. It is held just a few blocks from our house so that makes it convenient.

Friday night, Dave had to have his float down at the event to be safety inspected and judged. Any of you outside on Friday afternoon or evening? It was pouring in a way that is rarely seen in this city. There was no end in sight. Poor Dave was outside putting together last minute touches on the float and making sure all the electrical connections were working (electrical connections + rain = danger??!!) But all over this city there were 70 other float builders and marching bands and dance teams doing the same thing. The show must go on!

He decided to throw a plastic tarp over the whole thing for the evening during the downpour. First of all, how do you get a sheet of plastic over a structure that is 12 feet high and 15 feet long and has four sharp metal corners? One person can't do it alone - Dave found that out real quick. I'll tell you how it is done: you have to drag your wife and children out in the rain with broom handles to lift the plastic up and over. Yes, I know, a slippery sheet of plastic doesn't grip to the end of a broom handle. Nor do happy family feelings of love and support last very long in the rain doing a seemingly impossible task.
Do you know how long it takes for mammoth and unwieldy collections of rain water to form on a sheet of plastic 12 feet in the air during a heavy downpour? It takes approximately 6 minutes. I know this because 4 minutes after Dave put the plastic up, he went in the house to change his clothes and get ready to leave and 2 minutes later, I notice GALLONS of water collecting, straining the lights, support wires and electrical cords beyond their intended capacity. It appeared the whole top of the float was about to implode on itself.

Once that disaster was diverted, Dave headed down the city streets at the top speed of 8 miles an hour. I don't know what modern tractors will do, but I suppose in 1948 there was no need for tractors to travel any faster than that. The parade event is literally 7 blocks away, but Dave had to take an unfortunate detour to the gas station in the opposite direction. Not realizing that the rain would slow the project down, he was leaving later than expected and heading for the gas station in 5:00 end-of-the-week traffic. There are certain people in the general public that are evidently parade people, and some people who are less tolerable to find themselves behind an unexpected parade float traveling 8 miles an hour in front of them in their daily commute.

Nevertheless, all survived and the float was now parked at the parade entrance. WHEW!

During the parade, Melanie and a group of her friends rode in the back waving and screaming and dancing and loving having an audience for an hour. The parade was well attended despite the rain the previous 24 hours (it was perfect weather during the parade itself - yay!)

Dave had been told that he would have to have a truck/trailer to transport the float home, but he noticed that many people were ending the parade and driving home through the regular traffic so he did too. The girls got another 30-minute impromtu parade waving at cars who were waving and honking.
Hot Chocolate for all, then we watched the televised version of the whole parade. Here is what the TV anchors said about Dave as he passed the cameras: What great memories of Christmas in the Country brings for those who grew up in rural settings. And designer and builder David Hale and his family have pulled from old and current family memories in a continuous scene of holiday fun on each side of the float. Check this out (the girls in the back) They're very enthusiastic, by the way. They're saying "Hi mom, Happy Holidays" I think mom heard, for sure. A great float, they've worked hard to complete that mural on there as well. And pulled by a 1948 tractor, I might add. Isn't that neat?


Cynthia said...

hey ms. Calizona -- "SO LET IT BE WRITTEN . . . SO LET IT BE DONE!!"

Katie said...

I'm glad Dave has found a use for his tractor that he traveled cross country to get. I feel partially responsible for your parade success. Without a place to stay in Ohio, I'm sure that tractor would have never made it home and been there to pull a float. Way to go Katie!

Heidi said...

Wow the float turned out great! I was telling Melanie that I really wanted to come see the parade but Calizona planned a musical number practice (wink, wink) and Marley decided she wanted to go to bed early (the later never happens on days when I want her to go to bed early). It must have been quite a success. Jared was on-call at the VA Hospital and said that he could hear the parade from his call room!

Cynthia said...

Thanks a lot Katie -- now we will forever have a tractor on our property. I blame you! hahaha

Chelsea said...

WOW!! What a fun tradition you guys have in your non-snowy Christmas wonderland!

Suzanne said...

Thanks for the entry and photos Cynthia! Since I didn't get to go either, it's nice to see what it was like.