It’s been a few years since I was in a parade for one reason or another, but last night I volunteered to give out candy canes along side the CHEK Television float and car in the Santa’s Light Parade in downtown Victoria with my good friend Elaine.
I borrowed my daughter’s big coat and dressed myself as warmly as possible. The forecast called for a 60% chance of rain and it was going to be about 3 degrees, so I wanted to be good and ready. Elaine picked me up in her car and we headed downtown, only to get caught up in a bottleneck of other cars about halfway there. Of course, EVERYONE ELSE was also headed downtown. Why hadn’t we thought of that?? We finally found a way out and took a different route downtown, skirting past most of the traffic.
Then it was out of the car and a speedy walk past the huge crowds that were already gathered, down to the BC Museum where the parade began. I was already in a sweat! We wondered if we were going to make it on time, and just as we ran up to the float, which was basically a huge inflated camera perched on a semi truck, it began to roll. We grabbed bags of candy, and started running again, stopping every now and then to hand out candy to the eager hands that were stretched out towards us.
I’d look up and the truck was already half way down the block, so I’d run to catch up…then I’d throw my hand in the bag and grab a handful of candy and stop to hand it out to more hands. “Thank you!” I’d hear. “Merry Christmas!” A lot of the parents were telling their kids “Are you remembering to say thank you?” Some kids were clever and held out their hats, where I could see that they’d already gotten a good supply of candy from the floats that were ahead of us. “I got a blue one this time!” I heard somebody excitedly say.
Sometimes the candy would fall out of my hands into the street and kids would scramble to grab it. One young guy said as I handed him a candy cane “Could I have one for my brother?” I looked at him and realized he was just scamming me, but I started to hand him another one, and then a third one fell on the street. He scrambled to grab it too. “Is that for your other brother?” I smiled at him. He knew that I knew there were no brothers.
I would look for the kids that were shy and sitting back, and make sure to give them something. Several times I ran into families where a parent would say “No candy, thank you.” One mother actually took the candy out of the kids’ hand just after I put it there. She handed it back to me. I wondered about that. Is a candy cane such a terrible thing? How did that child feel about every other child around them getting candy and then being told to give it back? It was an odd experience in what was otherwise a lot of fun. I didn’t have much time to ponder it, because the truck was far ahead again!
Big “kids” held out their hands too and I didn’t refuse them either. There were a couple of groups of Japanese students who didn’t speak English but knew how to hold out their mittened hands, and I filled them up and ran on. Sometimes the kids were 4 or 5 rows deep, so I took a handful of candy and yelled “Here it comes!”, throwing it into the crowd. Then I was off running again, throwing more candy, and more. Every now and then I’d see Elaine, running behind me or ahead of me. Once I yelled to her “Are we there yet?” and we laughed. But not for long.
There were hundreds of more kids to toss candy to. We darted and stopped and darted again as we continued to try and keep up with the CHEK float. I had to grab another bag out of the back of the CHEK car when I ran out, and then I was back into the crowds again. Candy canes, outstretched hands, “Thank you!”, and off running again.
And then, suddenly and as quickly as it started, we were at the end of the parade route. The line of crowds ended and I saw regular traffic at the intersection ahead. The truck took off into the night and I turned to find Elaine. We put the bags back in the car and said goodbye to everyone else who was handing out candy, and it was over. I realized that I was soaking with sweat, my legs were like rubber from all of the running, and I was huffing and puffing and laughing all at once. We began the walk back, in behind the crowds this time, and were able to just barely see some of the other floats in the part of the parade that was behind us. At last there was a huge float with Santa on board, signaling the end of the parade and the beginning of the Christmas season, and the huge crowds began to disperse.
What a wild ride! I love a parade :-).