Sunday, August 12, 2007

Photo Catch-Up: Parade Company

Sherman, set the WABAC machine to April 14, 2007.

I've been enjoying lots of little day trips this year, and very little blogging. In an effort to create retroactive balance and harmony, I'm going to spend the next few days creating short posts with lots of photos of some of these jaunts. (I just love the word jaunts; it's so, erm, jaunty!)

Back in mid-April, in recognition of National Volunteer Week, Matthaei Botanical Gardens sends vouchers to its volunteers, allowing them free entry to other local (reciprocal) organizations who rely on volunteers. Last year, my friend Carole and I, who both love a bargain (yeah, I'm frugal and even cheap, but I won't speak for her!) enjoyed this benefit with free visits to Greenfield Village and the Detroit Zoo. This year, we went to the Parade Company, which puts on the annual America's Thanksgiving Parade. I used to think this was broadcast only locally, but I do believe it's watched on a wider scale. I've never been to the parade in person, but I definitely plan to go this year.

The approach to the building was somewhat drab and industrial (in a shrinking cities kind of way), but the inside of the building was bright, contemporary, and alive. A volunteer showed us a video about the company, narrated by Mort Crim, and then we got a tour of the facilities, where the floats and "big heads" are stored and repaired, and new designs are built. (The big balloons are stored in a different building--I was deflated not to see Tony the Tiger, as his balloon was, somewhere else in town.)

I liked the book worm float because, OK, I'm a word geek. Always have been.

Each year, there's also a drawing contest for kids where the winning child's design is made into a float. Last year's winner drew a garden with smiling poofy clouds and a bright orange sun wearing sunglasses (which frankly is just how I draw my clouds and sun!). I really liked the content and style.

In addition to all the floats in the parade, many, many volunteers wear big heads of animals, like the deer below, or cartoon characters. You can see the hole for where the person's head goes. Some of these heads are very heavy and one of the volunteers said it also gets hot in there. It's also hard to balance the head at first, apparently. There seem to be at least two of each kind of head design.

Finally, the big finale and main event of the parade is Santa's float. Santa sits on a sleigh, and elves and assistants come out of the door here, where Carole caught me waving.

For some reason, I always wax nostalgic for the holidays in mid August. Maybe it's the sweltering humidity or the endless bites and scratches from working outdoors! But no worries, in February, I'm longing for those very things. I enjoy living with four distinct seasons.

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