Santa Claus parade will never be the same

It quickly was degenerating into one of those “It seemed like a good idea at the time” situations.
That revelation came late Saturday afternoon—either when the freezing rain made the “curling sheet” atop the parade float so slippery that no one could stand on it, or when the 40 mile an hour wind blew over a Christmas tree for the umpteenth time, spilling ornaments every which way across the cement pad underneath the car port.
Or maybe it was when we couldn’t get the generator going to power up the lights.
Let’s just say it wasn’t a banner day.
It all began about 10 days ago when Nadine Johnson, chef extraordinaire at the local curling club and main driving force behind the popular “Canoe for Cancer” and “Curl for Cancer” fundraisers here, decided it would be a great idea to enter a float in the annual Santa Claus parade.
It would be a blast, she figured, and also provide great publicity to boot for the upcoming “Curl for Cancer” slated March 2. And as anyone who knows Nadine’s infectious laugh firsthand, it didn’t take much for her bubbly enthusiasm to win over others, including my wife, who freely admits to being a Scrooge come Christmastime.
At this point, it seemed like a good idea.
It also seemed like a good idea Friday night. By the time we got over to Nadine’s house, Doug D. already had backed a Leon DeGagne goose-neck trailer unit perfectly under the car port, Nadine had brought back three trees from the bush, and the curling “sheet” was nicely painted and installed atop the trailer.
All that was left to do was decorate the trees, attach some lights along the “sheet,” and put banners/posters along the side and back of the trailer. Piece of cake.
After the obligatory grabbing of a beer to help get the next phase of the work started, which took about half-an-hour, things actually progressed quite smoothly—until “Kimo,” Nadine’s husky, got loose. Oh, she eventually was corralled and brought home, no worse for the wear, but about an hour of prime decorating time was lost.
Then, as we got ready to decorate the three trees, it was realized they wouldn’t fit atop the trailer while it was under the car port. Okay, no biggie. We’d just decorate them on the ground then, as we were getting ready to leave for the Shevlin wood yard the following day, Doug would move the truck forward and we’d lift them up, plug in the lights, start the generator, and away we’d go.
Again, a good idea at the time.
Alas, setback #2. No one could find the hooks Nadine and Cheryl had bought to attach the ornaments to the trees. Well, no biggie. Larry G. had a pair of nail clippers, so we cut up some wire to fashion our own hooks.
Piece of cake, but not the most time-efficient process. Another half-hour of prime decorating time shot.
Also by now, it was getting colder, and everyone was spending more frequent—and longer—stints by the wood stove in the shed. Everyone also decided they were hungry, so Nadine brought out a huge pot of chicken wings (ribs?) to the shed. And, of course, after that, the only work anyone felt like doing was walking out to the cooler and opening a beer, so we called it a night.
(It also was about then I discovered the missing ornament hooks sitting on a chair in the shed but no one seemed impressed).
Still, everything was cool. Putting a float in the parade still seemed like a good idea.
So Saturday comes. Cheryl decides to make a big poster to stretch across the back of the trailer, as well as spray paint circles of paper to resemble a curling “house” to attach to the eight wheels of the trailer. Two hours shot.
Things just got worse from there.
First, the helium tank ran out after we filled, like, six balloons. Cheryl remembered there was a tank at the Times. I go get it, suffering a hernia in the process. Easily 20 minutes lost.
Second, the much colder weather made it practically impossible to tape the curling “houses” to the wheels. Next 10 minutes wasted placing bets on how many would actually make it to the wood yard.
Third, filling up helium balloons in warmth of shed, then taking them outside in the cold, not a good plan (where was David Suzuki when we needed him?)
Fourth, rain wreaks havoc with poster on back of trailer, and others lining the sides of it. Fifth, howling wind make it necessary to tie down the Christmas trees (already missing most of their ornaments) to the trailer—a task made infinitely more difficult and time-consuming by the now freezing rain and darkness.
Sixth, not enough outlets to hook up string of lights along left side of trailer. Seventh, doesn’t matter, generator won’t run. It begins to look like the only things that will be lit on the float were the people riding it.
By now it’s about 5:45 p.m., with the parade scheduled to start at 6. And the float looked jed. Or flukejack, as Bob Tkachuk or Brad Badink, er Badiuk, would say.
Well, to make too long of a story short, the float did get to the Shevlin wood yard in time (barely) and the generator finally started. Nadine, Wendy, Jeanette, and Becky managed to stay atop the “ice sheet” without slipping off, while Cheryl (a.k.a. the “Countess of Castelvetro”) gamely hung onto the Charlie Brown trees at the back so they wouldn’t blow over any further.
More importantly, everyone had a good time, and judging from the reaction from the crowd lining Scott Street, the second-annual “Curl for Cancer” will be another big hit come March.
So yes, despite all the setbacks, it was a good idea. Would they do it again? You betcha, and I’ll even help out. But hey, for all those others who battled the elements to get their floats ready, and those who stood under umbrellas to watch the parade, that’s what community spirit is all about.
And that was the real message sent loud and clear here Saturday night!

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