The End of the Parade

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Well dear readers, you will undoubtedly be happy to hear that I have, at last, reached the end of the Mainx24 Parade!

The end of the parade included car art.  This is something I saw a lot of back home over the past few years.  People adhere a wide variety of three dimensional things to their car.  Usually, they do this to older, not very expensive cars and the first trends I saw involved adhering things like troll dolls.

An example of the more three dimensional variety of car art

An example of the more three dimensional variety of car art

I admit I felt some judgment when I saw these cars.  I couldn’t quite understand why someone would do that to their car or what value they got out of it.  Then, one of my friends told me she’d met a guy who drove one of these cars down our street on a regular basis.  She asked him why he decorated his car.  He said, “I just love making people smile.”

This driver definitely looks like she's all about making people smile

This driver definitely looks like she’s all about making people smile

I still have a hard time appreciating car art, but I now smile when I see one of these cars none-the-less.  It’s not the car that makes me smile.  It’s the thought that maybe the person driving it went to a lot of effort to bring a little joy into the world.  That’s definitely smile-worthy.

One of the art cars definitely created a lot of smiles–they had a supply of candy that caused children to line up outside the windows to receive a handful.  This car seems less three dimensional in style and more about happy thoughts in general.  I like happy thoughts.

Whether the kids appreciated the happy-thoughts car or not, they certainly enjoyed the candy

Whether the kids appreciated the happy-thoughts car or not, they certainly enjoyed the candy

If an artistic car doesn’t conjure happy thoughts, perhaps a horse-drawn carriage will?

Look closely for the Dalmatian on the driver's seat

Look closely for the Dalmatian on the driver’s seat

This is one of at least two carriages that are available for a spin around downtown on weekends year-round and all week during the summer.  Notice the Dalmatian riding along on the driver’s seat.  Both carriages always have a Dalmatian who accompanies the driver.  One of these days, I’m going to ask how that tradition got started.

With the end of the parade came the big man himself (or his quintuplet, given that we saw him many times before)–Santa Claus.

A more practical santa uses sled dogs instead of reindeer

A more practical santa uses sled dogs instead of reindeer

Instead of driving a sleigh with reindeer, he used sled dogs.  That seems more practical to me–reindeer have all those horns and hoofs to worry about.  Plus, what do they eat?  According to wiki answers, in the winter they eat lichens.  I haven’t seen any bags of lichens even at the most premium of pet stores.

As I walked back to my car, I stopped to shoot two more images.  First, a man playing the piano out on the street.  Perhaps the fact that it was December was what made this remarkable to me.

I'm guessing this guy doesn't go busking around town

I’m guessing this guy doesn’t go busking around town

The second was a tree who had bonded with a building in a way that probably isn’t healthy for either.  Not sure which will win the battle for space in the end–right now, it looks like the tree is winning.  I silently cheered it on.

This tree and building have become so intertwined, it's not clear they can be separated

This tree and building have become so intertwined, it’s not clear they can be separated

Not Just Any Parade

Perhaps it is indicative of a slightly twisted sense of humor, but I really love this photo of a small boy staring at a classic truck loaded with whiskey barrels.

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When I first started shooting the truck, I tried to frame the scene so the boy wasn’t in it.  As I shifted around trying to find an angle, I suddenly saw this shot and smiled.  I’m not even sure why I think it’s funny.

If a small boy staring at a truck amuses me, the next shot should be adorable enough to make anyone giggle:

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Yet, the expression on the woman’s face makes me a little sad.  She just doesn’t look at all happy to be playing Mrs. Claus.  It’s hard to laugh when someone looks miserable.  I like to think that I just missed a big grin and caught her in a pause between smiles.  After all, who could be anything but happy riding behind two such adorable miniature horses?

If there is anything amusing about the image, it’s possibly the ingenious construction of the wheels under the sled that make it possible for a sled to travel down Main St on a 70+ degree day in Chattanooga.  I predict a new style of sleds appearing on the sledding hill in the park this winter.

The next shot is of a middle school band.  They didn’t actually play while they were in earshot, but I loved the fact that they managed to make themselves look like a unit with simple black pants, white shirts, white gloves, and bright blue caps.

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I particularly like the blue caps.  After all, a marching band is supposed to have some kind of hat, right?  While I imagine they were pretty hot by the end of the parade, they sure looked cool.

I cannot explain the next image.  I’m guessing I could have asked any of the dozens of people near me what it was all about, but I was too busy shooting.

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After all, I didn’t want to miss the next part of the parade:  the lawn mower racing team.

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I can honestly say I have never seen a lawn mower racing team before.  While my twisted sense of humor is tempted to make fun, I think they have a great sense of humor to get out there and with their fully decked-out, decorated lawn mowers.  Before you judge the implications of a town having a lawn mower racing team, just know that there is apparently only one lawn mower race a year here and it’s to raise money for the local Autism Center.

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It was about the point in the parade  where the SpiderMan themed lawn mower rolled into view that I decided this was the best parade ever.  I hear it’s been growing every year.  I can’t wait to see it next year!

Save the Cheerleader, Save the World

Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

The epitome of enthusiasm

The epitome of enthusiasm

 

 

A middle school group of girls tosses their batons

A middle school group of girls tosses their batons

Enthusiasm.  E-N-T-H-U-S-I-A-S-M!  What does it spell?  ENTHUSIASM!

I guess it doesn’t make a very catchy cheer.

But, the cheerleader float in the Mainx24 parade certainly had a lot of it.  Even so, if you added up all the enthusiasm of the little girls riding on the float, I’m not sure it would equal the enthusiasm of their fearless leader walking along side.  She led both the girls and the spectators in cheers like:

“You say Merry!”  Yell the cheerleaders as their leader points at crowd with every muscle fiber clearing communicating, “And you will.”

“MERRY!”  Screams the crowd, inspired by the energy.

“I say Christmas!” The cheerleaders shout back and then erupt into a fury of squeals, claps, and other sounds of general merriment.  When they settle down again:

“You say Happy!”

“HAPPY!” return the spectators.

“I say HOLIDAYS!” the cheerleader reply with even more enthusiasm.

I am envious as I watch the woman who leads the group through my lens.  She seems to have endless energy, and its contagious.  I suppose that’s what makes a person a cheerleader.

I was never a cheerleader.  In fact, I never actually considered the possibility.  Perhaps this was because I was already 5’ 7” at a time when some of my friends and most of the boys my age were bragging about being 4’ 6”.

This was at about the age many girls start going to summer cheerleading camps (or whatever they’re called).  I thought more about playing basketball than about cheering on someone else (and I was the 5th grade basketball champ).

Add to that my inability to walk across the room without running into something.  I blamed this on my constantly changing size–as soon as I would figure out where my various appendages ended, they would get longer.

That, of course, doesn’t explain why I am still clumsy, 30-some-odd years since I last grew (well, vertically at least).  Perhaps I gave up on understanding how to predict the space I would need to occupy too early.  As it is, I’m so oblivious to running into things that I can never explain where all my bruises come from.  I occasionally suspect Pat is kicking me when we’re sleeping, but I’ve turned up with dozens of inexplicable bruises when I was traveling without Pat, too.

Perhaps I need my own cheerleader?  They could shout cheers at me like, “Step Back!  Step Back!  The wall’s about to attack!” when I’m about to run into a wall.  Or maybe, “Where’s your brain at?  Are you a maniac?  Bring it back!” just before I run into a small child or trip over Tisen.

Personal Cheerleader.  Why not?

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No Rain on This Parade

Who doesn’t love a parade?  With the possible exception of the screaming fire engine sirens (which we hear more than enough of at our place and don’t need to go out to hear), it’s pretty tough to have a bad parade.  All you need are some animals, a band or two, and smiling kids and you’re set.

Today, the first festival of the Christmas season in Chattanooga took place.  It’s called Mainx24 because it’s focused on trying to make Chattanooga a 24-hour city.

I don’t really see that happening this decade, but it’s nice that it happens once a year.  Plus, it’s a celebration of the city’s South side, which is a neighborhood in transition.

Having witnessed the transition of some of the neighborhoods in Columbus that were perceived as the “worst” into hot spots of historical preservation, celebration of the arts, and community gathering, I have a special fondness for transition.

A few decades ago, my mother ran a preschool in one such neighborhood before its transition began.  On days when I didn’t have school but she did, I would go with her and “help.”

The neighborhood seemed slightly terrifying to me at that time.  It was full of old, victorian homes with boarded up windows that threatened to throw pieces of themselves at me if I ventured too close.  Not that I wandered far–there were always people wandering the streets that, in my innocence, seemed threatening.  In retrospect, I would guess they were harmless homeless people, but I had never actually seen homeless people before then.  Sometimes they stumbled around, obviously drunk.  I had also never seen drunk people, so I had no idea why they behaved oddly.

Decrepit historical houses were purchased by the city and sold for $1 to buyers who could demonstrate their ability to restore them.  It was an amazingly successful project.  That same neighborhood is now known as Victorian Village and is one of the more expensive parts of Columbus to live in.

The restoration of this area became contagious.  Soon, the near-by neighborhood now known as the Short North started changing.  The buildings facing High St were gradually restored and turned into trendy art galleries, restaurants, music venues, and shops.  New buildings in historical styles started to appear with high-end apartments and condos.

The two areas met in the middle, although there is still a mix of the unrestored (and affordable) with the beautifully appointed, fully restored historical mansions.

Chattanooga’s South Side doesn’t seem to have too many mansions.  It was mostly an industrial area before its transition began.  But from the size of the crowd drawn to today’s festival, it’s definitely a place people want to be.

I think adopting New Orleans-parade tradition in tossing candy (and even the occasional beads) to children was a brilliant way to guarantee all the kids will be clamoring to come back again next year.