Marching to the Beat

 

Tisen kept my fellow volunteer busy while I got a shot of the booth, McClellan Island in the background, and some rapidly forming clouds overhead

Tisen kept my fellow volunteer busy while I got a shot of the booth, McClellan Island in the background, and some rapidly forming clouds overhead

Sitting on the Walnut Street Bridge and watching tourists walk by is always fun.  What was surprising to me on Sunday was how many people were not tourists.  The local community showed up in pretty substantial numbers for an unadvertised, unprecedented parade on the Walnut Street Bridge.

As representatives of the Chattanooga Audubon Society, my fellow volunteer and I stopped a couple dozen people and managed to gather a dozen or so emails to add to the organizations contact list.  Of the people we stopped, only 2 of them were from out of town.

The 8-year old drum major led the band down the bridge

The 8-year old drum major led the band down the bridge

I can’t claim this to be a representative sampling of the population on the Walnut Street Bridge that day, but it seems that 90% of the people on the bridge were locals.  When you think about it, it makes sense.  The Howard High School band was performing.  With them, the brought all of the family and friends that support them.  The Chattanooga Ballet company was marching, the brought some more.  And so the list goes on.  I guess that’s what makes a parade a community event–it brings out the locals in masses to support the ones they love who are marching in the parade.  And, of course, the locals who just want to have something fun to do or who support the cause behind a parade.

The cheerleaders kept pace with the band

The cheerleaders kept pace with the band

Whatever brought people to the Walnut Street Bridge that day, the Howard High School Band was determined to entertain them.  After the dancers (see yesterday’s post), their 8-year old drum major led the instrumental section as they stepped in time to a raucous beat–it was enough to get the wood planking on the bridge vibrating.

Following the band came the cheerleaders.  They weren’t quite as wound up as the dancers in front of the band had been–no dances or active cheering as they went past our end of the bridge.

Most parades have fire trucks.  Since they won't fit on the Walnut Street Bridge, the firefighters walked instead

Most parades have fire trucks. Since they won’t fit on the Walnut Street Bridge, the firefighters walked instead

I was impressed by the ballet company’s choice of attire for the parade.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen a ballerina elevated over another dancer’s head while wearing rubber rain boots before.  I’m not sure if they made it the entire half mile across the bridge like that, but it made for an exciting presence in the parade.

Ballet Chattanooga displays it's fun taste in footwear

Ballet Chattanooga displays it’s fun taste in footwear

The Dogood organization closed the parade.  This group promotes responsible dog ownership and a dog-friendly community.  They are responsible for getting the bridge open to canines, who were prohibited from crossing the bridge until a few years ago.  Tisen was happy to see them–grateful for the many times he’s gotten to accompany me on the bridge because of their work.  Although, I do think he was jealous of the other dogs’ Cinco de Mayo costumes.

The do-good dogs won best costume

The do-good dogs won best costume

At the end of the parade, the band gathered on the steps leading up to the glass bridge over to the Bluffview Art District.  They performed a couple of songs and then marched across the glass bridge.  This seemed dangerous, but they all made it safe and sound.

The last of the band makes its way across the glass bridge

The last of the band makes its way across the glass bridge

Here Comes the Sun

Tisen getting comfy under the booth--he turned out to be a big attraction

Tisen getting comfy under the booth–he turned out to be a big attraction

Given the size of Chattanooga, I am always surprised by the number of celebrations the city hosts.  Besides music venues, festivals, concerts, and fireworks, there seem to be a large number of parades.  Although, I guess it has been since Christmas that I was aware of a parade.  I’m sure there have been many, none-the-less.  🙂

I didn’t actually know what this weekend’s parade was for until I googled it just now.  I ended up on the Walnut Street Bridge manning a booth for the Chattanooga Audubon Society along with another volunteer.  We didn’t really know what to expect–it was a first for this event.

The parade opened with the rental bikes available all over the city at convenient locations

The parade opened with the rental bikes available all over the city at convenient locations

As it turns out, it might be a long time before there is another parade on the Walnut Street Bridge–the parade was in honor of its reopening as a park 20 years ago.  It’s a fantastic place and one definitely worth celebrating.  Our job, however, was to sign up as many people as possible for our email list, give those who did sign up free passes to the Audubon Acres property, and pass out Toostie Pops to children who showed interest.

Next came a mini choo choo belonging to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Next came a mini choo choo belonging to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga–well, it’s back there behind the bikes

As a sideline, I hoped to point out interesting birds to passers by and had binoculars and bird books set out for that purpose.  As usual, however, we were out in the middle of the afternoon at the worst possible time for birding.  We did see a Great Blue Heron and some Rock Pigeons, but nothing very exciting.

The thing that was the most amazing about sitting out on the Walnut Street Bridge on Sunday afternoon was the sun.  The weather was supposed to be rain all weekend.  When I looked at the weather channel app on my iPhone, the chance for rain dropped from 100% to 90% about noon on Sunday.  When we drove out to Audubon Acres to pick up lunch and load up the stuff we needed for the booth, the rain had slowed to a mist.

I don't know if the sunshine made these dancers especially enthusiastic, but they sure were having fun

I don’t know if the sunshine made these dancers especially enthusiastic, but they sure were having fun

By the time the van was loaded and we were back on our way to the Walnut Street Bridge, the rain had stopped.  When we arrived on the bridge, I pulled on my rain jacket for warmth–the sky was dark and threatening and the wind was blowing hard.  By the time we’d been there a half an hour, I was pulling off my jacket and putting up my umbrella for protection from the sun instead of the rain.

Tisen tucked himself back in the corner under the shade from my umbrella and drank more water than I’ve seen him drink in a long time.

It was like the parade organizers had special-ordered the weather.  This respite from the rain lasted long enough for the parade to conclude, our van to be re-loaded, and for us to drive nearly all the way home before the clouds blew back in and the rain re-started.  I really think I need to get to know the parade organizers better.

The dancers may have been the highlight of the parade

The dancers may have been the highlight of the parade

Rebel without a Cause

This little guy led the high school band like he was ready to graduate.

This little guy led the high school band like he was ready to graduate.

Since the Starlight parade was held after dark, I was hesitant to take my old 40D as my second camera.  The 40D doesn’t do well at higher ISO settings.  Fortunately, my husband was willing to share his new Rebel T4i, which has better ISO performance and higher resolution than my out-dated 40D.

I don't think anything could distract this cheerleader.

I don’t think anything could distract this cheerleader.

I had to think long and hard as to whether I wanted to put my wide angle lens on my 5D Mark III or on the Rebel.  The last parade I shot, I put my wide angle on my 5D and my telephoto on my 40D.  This seemed logical since the 5D is full frame and the 40D is a cropped sensor.  If you want to go wide, go wide.  If you want to go tight, go tight, right?

This little girl watched intently throughout the parade.

This little girl watched intently throughout the parade.

But, when I was shooting the parade, I found my 24-70mm lens on my 5D was often too wide and my 70-200mm lens on my 40D was too tight.  Plus, when I shot the subject loosely so I could crop to the framing I wanted, I was cropping a lower-resolution image from the 40D.  As a result, I concluded I should have reversed the use of the cameras so that I would have had the higher resolution for the photos I was doing the most cropping on and a wider field of view on both.

This young woman gave quite a show twirling her baton and tossing it well into the dark.

This young woman gave quite a show twirling her baton and tossing it well into the dark.

But introducing the Rebel T4i into the mix was a new problem.  It’s lighter to hand hold than the 5D, but not well balanced with the 70-200mm lens, which out-weighs the Rebel by 2 pounds.  This makes holding it somewhat precarious.  However, by holding it by the foot on the lens, I felt a little more confident I wasn’t going to drop it.

This was the youngest twirler performing big tricks--I guess that's how she got the sash.

This was the youngest twirler performing big tricks–I guess that’s how she got the sash.

In the end, I decided to go with the same plan as for the previous parade:  cropped sensor with telephoto and full frame with the wide angle.  The decision was made easier when I realized I didn’t have a bracket for the T4i to attach it to my tripod.

It does look really stupid to walk around with a T4i with a 70-200mm lens on it.  I instinctively held my hand over the T4i when I spotted another photography coming my direction.

Grainy close up of some of the girls on the tiny tots twirlers float I mentioned yesterday.

Grainy close up of some of the girls on the tiny tots twirlers float I mentioned yesterday.

That said, other than the flip out touch screen on the T4i, which I found annoying, and the imbalance with the lens, I really liked the tiny Rebel.  The shutter was quiet and handled rapid fire shots faster than the 5D (probably because of the slightly lower resolution).

The flip out touchscreen will be handy for shooting video and does make viewing images in bright light easier.  I just don’t like to put the camera up to my face with the flip screen open and then get annoyed when I have to open it again immediately following a shot to check an image.  In the end, I was pleased with the images, although they were a bit noisier than I was expecting.

This little guy was very energetic throughout the parade.

This little guy was very energetic throughout the parade.

The End of the Parade

Note:  To see larger images, click on a photo and a gallery will pop-up.

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

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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