Jul 17, 2006

What A Parade!

One of the "perks" of being a city councilor in Troutdale is the privilege of riding in parades. Complete with a sporty car and chauffeur. I guess that makes me a dignitary. Woo Hoo!

Saturday, July 15 was Troutdale Summerfest Parade day. In Troutdale, being in the Summerfest Parade means you have to live up to many obligations and responsibilities during the parade. Actually, if you want to survive, there's just one obligation. You have to throw as much candy as possible at all times. Why?

Think of this analogy. Let's say you're at Yellowstone Park in the 1960's, when it was still cool to feed the bears. A bear has approached your car, and waddya know, between your kids in the back seat, left over from last night's s'more campfire feast, is a bag of marshmallows.

Your kids goad you on, while your wife says don't get out of the car. So next thing you know, there you are, standing outside your '66 Buick. You're feeding big white fluffy marshmallows to the black bear, who is begging like a dog a mere 18 inches away from you. Suddenly you realize this bear won't be so friendly once you run out of marshmallows. . .

Fast forward to early Saturday morning.

At a solemn breakfast ceremony at Troutdale's Cafe Bono, I appointed my wife as Royale Candy Thrower Deluxe and Official Parade Babe. We had about an hour to kill before the parade assembly time. So off we went walking nostalgically through downtown Troutdale, taking a fond and potentially last look at our beloved little town. For we knew not whether our candy would last the entire parade route.

As the appointed hour came closer, I waited for Parade Babe to make one last trip to the restroom (sound familiar, guys?), and then we headed over to the parade assembly area. And what a selection of cars we dignitaries had! There were new Ford Mustangs of all colors!

Which one was mine, I wondered. So I asked the parade entry check-in-people which car was mine. They said, "you're riding with Neil Handy". Great! Parade Babe and I are up for that! Neil Handy is one of Troutdale's righteous dudes, even more righteous than Ferris Bueller!

We walk over to Neil, and righteous greetings were passed around. And Neil had a friend along! The lovely Betty, 80 something years old, a Parade Babe in her own right and quite the ultimate in nice ladies.

Neil told us they originally asked him to chauffeur another dignitary, but Neil said he would never chauffeur that *&^%$ (I cleaned this part of the conversation up for the sake of any "children" who might be reading this blog instead of flirting with 45 year old FBI agents on myspace.com).

Neil said he then asked them "who else needs a car and driver", and they told him to take his pick. That's when he said he picked me. I tell you, at that moment, I felt just like Sally Field, only without the osteoporosis.

And what a car Neil had prepared for us- a 1970's Chrysler K car convertible. Apparently, the parade assembly folks had spotted this classic in front of the Handy Bros. Garage earlier that morning and asked Neil if the thing still ran. He replied in the affirmative, and so there we were with our dream parade car. Oh! The Joy! Every time we heard this car say "your door is ajar", Parade Babe and I swooned with delight.

We chatted with the other parade dignitaries, parade babes, Shriners, horses, karate kids, and garbage can precision drill team members while we waited for our turn to go. Metro Councilor Rod Park's ride was a big favorite- a Nash Metropolitan convertible. But Troutdale City Councilor (and 2006 Troutdale "Citizen of the Year") Dave Ripma's real-deal John Deere tractor and trailer was a close second place for best ride, not including, of course, our ride, Neil's Chrysler K-Car convertible.

It was our turn to go. Off we went, right behind the karate kids. Parade Babe and I pre-loaded our fists with our opening salvo of candy. Neil was the perfect driver, giving parade watchers the deal of the century- "The car's for sale, and so is the city councilor riding in the back!" Sadly, there were no takers. (Political correctness time for those dense readers who think Neil was serious. It's a joke. I'm not the sausage king of Chicago, either.)

Parade Babe, Neil, Betty and I are firing out candy as fast as we can. Left and right along the parade route. Hands reach out towards us and the other parade entries, coming closer and closer. Only point blank blasts of root beer barrels, Dubble Bubble bubble gum and Jolly Ranchers repulsed them. It was hand-to-hand candy combat.

We were able to divert some by launching candy into high arcs, which caused our pursuers to lose us in the sun. Another trick was to throw two handfuls at once between two pursuers. Down they'd go, racing to see who could pick up the most.

Occasionally we would get a respite from our brutal defensive work from dentally conscious parents, who would yell "no candy for our kids", or some other party pooper denial of childhood bliss. We were thankful in a way, for it gave us time to reload.

There were many traps laid for us. Some parents put the cutest, smallest, widest eyed small children out in plain sight. It was awful.

These kids put us into the cute kid trance, where even you macho guys are momentarily paralyzed by the "awww cute kid" effect. It wasn't fair. While we were frozen in the cute kid effect, their older siblings closed in for the kill.

I think this is how Spielberg got the idea of having the cute little dinosaurs kill that Newman guy in Jurassic Park. Obviously, Spielberg has ridden in a parade or two.

It was a close call, but we made it. Our candy ammo lasted to the end of the parade route! But only by the hair on one unwrapped Jolly Rancher's chinny-chin chin. Hair of what, you'll have to ask Neil. It was his car.

Our reward was waiting for us at the end of the parade route, Glen Otto Park. What entertainment! Pigs that play golf! Bands playing cool jazz! Free stuff from prize wheels! (I won a pencil and some free water!) And we survived another parade out in the wild open spaces of downtown Troutdale.

Thank you, Neil Handy and Betty for such a great ride. Thank you, Chamber of Commerce for inviting me and Parade Babe into the Summerfest Parade.

And finally, thank you, Parade Babe, for a really, really great day.

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