Thursday, November 25, 2004

When Faeries Cry

I stumbled from my warm bed just before dawn and slipped on the clothes I laid out five hours earlier. Trudy looked at me like I was insane. Why would anyone be up at this ungodly hour?

The answer is simple: I had to get my parade on.

Every year, I volutneer for my friend Keith, who has a balloon in the Thanksgiving Parade downtown. And every year, I go, despite the cold and general lack of organization. People always ask why I subject myself to this -- if you're cold and miserable, they ask, why not sleep in? Why not indeed? The reason I put myself through this is because every year, something just cool enough, just out-of-the-ordinary enough happens to make it worthwhile.

Enter the faeries.

We were light on volunteers this year. Instead of 20 of us huddled together for warmth like a herd of sheep, there was only 12 or so, and that's not enough to carry a baloon. Those things are mighty big. How big, you ask? Well, as I walked up to the staging area I watched one balloon float away. An organizer tried grabbing it - without wearing gloves - and he cut his hand to the bone. Heavy AND dangerous.

So anyway, short on volunteers. Next to us was a large group of renaissance fair enthusiasts - there were kings; there were pirates; there were faeries. So after some discussion, they sent the faeries over to us.

Keith now ran a group consisting of the much-coveted 30-something-semi-alcoholic-yuppies and the under-21-faeries. Interesting combination.

Our crew took to their ropes, where we discovered that there weren't enough ropes on the balloon - a big elf, and they were all on the backside. Oh, and the balloon had a slow leak. As we began walking, our elf looked kind of limp, like he'd just come back from a wild night of partying with Dasher and Blitzen.

But before that, we waited. And waited. And waited. Our balloon was at the end of the parade. So all of the balloons at the end stood in line waiting. I froze. The faeries froze and huddled together. The pirates appeared to be getting restless - one liberated a fallen cotton candy and distributed it to her fellow pirates. Finally, our part of the parade started. Well, not really.

Due to the aforementioned problems, the elf just couldn't get it together, and our professional, who set up the balloon - incorrectly I might add - took the time-honored route of blaming everyone else for his mistakes. So halfway through the parade route, he started screaming.

And that's when he made the faerie cry.

Imagine you're a teenage girl (no, it's not something I do regularly), you're dressed in a pretty light costume, it's cold, you don't really know what you're doing, and some jackass starts yelling at you. Me? I'd hand him the rope and go home (or hit him with an empty whiskey bottle), but she stuck it out and was upset. And I don't blame her. The whole thing was a joke. The lone pirate with us comforted her and calmed her down.

That's when they gave me the golf cart.

One of the parade organizers drove up and asked if I'd mind driving it alongside the balloon for the rest of the parade while he straightened things out. So I hopped in and drove the last half of the parade route. One of my fellow parade-walkers hopped on the back and shouted instructions and encouragement through her bullhorn while I drove along.

Finally, the parade ended. Our "professional" threw a temper tantrum at the end of the route. While I generally don't wish this on anyone, I hope he gets fired. There was no need for that. Some of us who had done this before went around to the faeries and thanked them, telling them they did a good job.

And I hope they come back; they seemed like nice people and they wanted to have fun - not be screamed at by some dipshit.

In any case, I returned to my car, drove home, cleaned up and enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving with the family, which I hope everyone else did as well.


Tracie said...

Wow! I had no idea we were so close during the parade!

Yes, it was cold and miserable, and there were some not nice people that went along with that sad Elf balloon. Our faeries, however, were stars! This group of individuals are wonderfully special, and luckily, resiliant. They quickly bounced back, and I have heard several say they would do it again. (And the thanks by your crew to them was greatly appreciated) I just wish I had been back there...course, they would have had an irate pirate on their hands...

Other than that, though, we did have fun and I hope we will be able to do it again.

Brian said...

I'm happy you all enjoyed it - problems and all. It's usually a great time, and I like seeing the families who are out there having fun. And I'm especially happy that the faeries didn't let the problems get them down.

After reading your post, I'd assumed you were one of the pirates, but didn't know which one. It looked like you all were having fun.

I couldn't drop the banner when he started screaming, so I didn't wander back to him to tell him to back off. I can't abide bullies; few things tick me off more.

In any case, I hope you all do it again -- it's one of those fun, head-turning, worthwhile experiences.

Tracie said...

We were having a blast! (even through my pounding headache and the freezing cold) Yeah, there were several female pirates weren't there. Well, I wasn't the one that liberated the cotton candy...I can tell you that much. :)

Brian said...

It gets cold between those buildings; I did notice that it was signifigantly warmer in the sun, but I was probably hallucinating from hypothermia by then.

Well, now I know who you weren't, so that narrows it down. I do think it was a very nice move on her part to share the cotton candy. You were definitely a very tight-knit and friendly group of pirates - no duels or fights broke out over the candy; I was impressed

Did you notice the pirate ship float? I was hoping you and your fellow pirates would board and plunder it. It's been too long since I've seen a good plundering. ; )

Tracie said...

I think it was MUCH warmer in the sun! But then when we started walking down Market, the wind was really cold, and it didn't matter if you were in the sun or not. It was warmer when we were just standing and waiting for our turn I think.

Yes, we are all very close...very much like an extended family. We try not to fight over the small things, like candy, and save the squabbles for bigger booty! :)

We DID see that float! We tried to organize a boarding party, but seeing as how we were all half frozen, that slow moving ship was out of site before we could all get our feet moving. We settled for yelling at it. Then, shortly after that, we saw the river boat float, and then the one with the pilgrims. Although we were convinced we could easily take these slow moving vessels, the cold was just too numbing. How hilarious would it have been if we had gone running up to that float?!? Course, they wouldn't have asked us back for next years parade I'm sure...

Brian said...

Oh, that would have been classic! Just what the parade needed to shake it up. Sure, you might of been banned, but think of the publicity!