In an hour and a half, Portland’s Junior Rose Parade will begin a block from my office. It is a big deal here, but I have to admit, I am a bit of a curmudgeon about it. It is possible parades would never have been my thing, but going to one in Madras, Oregon at the age of four and being chased by a pirate with a scimitar didn’t help. Really. This guy in a pirate outfit seems to have gotten such glee at my fear of him that he left the parade and came after me. It was hard to shake my terror, even after my grandma bought me orange sunglasses with Tony the Tiger in the upper corner and a pair of those clear plastic little kid high heels that stayed on your feet by strips of elastic across the toes and ankles.
So I have staunchly avoided parades in my lifetime, and for the most part, I am happy with that decision. However, one parade managed to entice me. 25-ish years ago, I lived in Sisters, Oregon, as did my sister and her son, Chris, who was about two years old at the time of the parade in question. I don’t remember what the excuse was for the parade, but somehow having a two-year-old in my life altered my parade position completely. I couldn’t wait to get there with him. I thought maybe the parade would change his life. We joined the other folks who lined the streets, and pretty soon it was clear Chris would need to be higher if he was going to be able to see. I hoisted him onto my shoulders, and there he stayed for the duration.
What a parade! Eighty percent of it involved horses and the remaining twenty percent presented a variety of small motorized vehicles. Some horses were ridden by Native Americans with bright Pendleton blankets peeking out in reds and turquoises from underneath the rider, some ridden by the Sisters’ version of the rhinestone cowboy. The horses pranced and backed up. Some reared on command. But the really exciting thing to Chris was that THERE WERE HORSES WALKING RIGHT BY HIM, A STREAM OF EQUINE GORGEOUSNESS, DRESSED TO THE NINES. And more amazing still, they pooped. Without so much as an “Excuse me,” some long-legged, bespangled horse would just let one plop. Right on the road.
I have revised my creed around parade-going: bring a kid with you. It changes the entire experience.