I’m not sure how I got started writing so much about the bad parts of our annual Christmas Parade. It’s not my style to be negative, let alone downright snarky, but when this event happens I just can’t help it. I was nice yesterday. Yesterday is gone.
Let’s be honest: The annual Knoxville Christmas Parade has problems. I’ve not seen a Christmas Parade in other cities of a similar size, so without a comparison, how can I say ours is weak? Did you see the footage on television the other night of Knoxville Christmas Parades from the 1950’s? It was much better sixty years ago!
Two quick ways it was better: Bands and Self-propulsion. Where have all the bands gone? We could easily use a half-dozen, maybe more and we got one! Maybe it was the weather, but I don’t think so. I think it’s a trend and it’s one we need to reverse. Band directors are you listening? Your city needs you!
And about that self-propulsion thing: How come we can incorporate the pulling vehicle into the float to make it seamless, but we can’t do that in 2013? Many of the floats in the 1950’s footage appear to float down the street while ours typically look like the dressed up trailers that they are. Good grief, sometimes we don’t even dress them up!
I’ve included some honorable mention floats, as you can see. They just as easily might have made the honorable mention in yesterday’s post for best floats. They are all in the middle somewhere and their biggest flaw is simply that there is no aspiration, no vision of sugar plums or anything else. They are OK. Some of them could have been fine with a little more thought and work. As they are, they are not as terrible as the truly bad ones.
So, with the honorable mention floats out of the way, let’s count down our naughty nine (I already posted #6 at the top). What’s so bad about number ten? It does have a theme – and an appropriate one – Jesus’ birthday. Very good, so far. We’ve got a large cake and a sign that tells us the theme in green lettering. We’ve got some minimal side decoration. In between? Miserable people (understandably) seated in folding chairs with empty seats among them. Could we stand and look festive? Could we get better chairs? Leave the empty ones at home? Have something happening between the two ends.
They do have wreaths and a Biblical message, though not directly referencing the birth of Christ, so it’s a little off message. Otherwise we have a Conestoga wagon with miserable people underneath. Which parts of this could not have been put together an hour before the parade?
It isn’t really a total abomination, it’s more like Michael Jackson’s later albums: Were they really necessary? We love our firemen. We love their vintage fire trucks. This looks sort of like a white above-ground pool with a plastic Santa. It could be made better, sure, but why? We have your classic entries already. Stick with what brought you here.
Is this a float? Thank goodness for the Santa hats and candy canes or we wouldn’t know if it was a simple hayride in Autumn as opposed to a simple hayride in a parade. A single strand of lights doesn’t do much for this disaster, except for keeping it out of sixth place which is almost identical, minus the single strand of lights. Hay bales on a trailer people? Really?
I think numbers five, six and seven must have used the same consultant. A consultant who also has a hay bale business on the side.
Remember when the Cub Scouts and/or Boy Scouts had a float simulating the great outdoors? They had a fake fire, trees and all had their cute uniforms. No more. Now it’s all about staying dry and a few strings of lights. I’m just saying to the people who do these floats: If you were a kid, would this thrill you?
Why, why, why? Please help me understand. I know I blew the sign out to get their happy faces, but the sign could not have possibly helped this disaster. It doesn’t even have cute kids. It’s old guys on (more) bales of hay. It’s sad. Surely you are wondering how it could get worse than this.
Where do I start? Is it the single strand of icicle lights? The unpainted two-by-fours from which soggy stockings dangle? The black tarps, one of which looks distinctly like the type one might find at a burial site over an open grave? How about a sign advertising a lottery that keeps people impoverished on false hopes during what should be the most hopeful time of year? How about the cynicism of a float that does nothing but promote greed in the midst of the season of giving. It’s like making Ebeneezer Scrooge (pre-conversion) the grandmaster of the parade. I’m not saying they are evil, just that it doesn’t fit and they made no effort to promote the season above their own business interests.
And now, this is where I will probably really get in trouble. I’ll ask everyone to read carefully what I say before you start the stoning. Ready to throw rocks? Here goes. It requires three pictures and I’ll explain. I knew it would be my number one worst float as soon as I saw it:
It may seem an odd choice and you may be wondering why I included a guy walking. First, sure it’s an attractive float in a manner of speaking. A good deal of effort went into it. There’s a lot of Easter here: white design, presumably resurrected Jesus and the guy walking down the street carrying the sign. If this was an Easter parade it might work, but what does this have to do with Christmas?
Yes, I know that Jesus grew up and was put to death and so on. But this is Christmas. You want to go the religious route with your float? Awesome! Give me angels, drummer boys, wise men, shephards. Give me baby Jesus, for goodness sake. Just as I criticized the technically wonderful ark a few years ago, I have to cry foul on that front. But there is more.
I’m not sure you can see it, but the “Jesus” walking beside the float has fake blood smeared all over his robe. Why? Christmas parades are for children. Do you want your four year old wondering why zombies are participating in the parade? How do you answer the child who says, “Why does that man have blood on his robe? Is he hurt?” It isn’t even Biblically correct, as we are told Jesus was stripped and his, presumably non-bloody, robes were gambled away. This is not family-friendly, has nothing to do with Christmas and is historically inaccurate if you believe the Bible as history. Scaring children is not a family value.
So, there you have it, the dark side of the Knoxville Christmas Parade 2013. It was, as I said, not a bad parade. We didn’t have wrestlers and, as Ally mentioned, no rebel flags waved from any of the floats. We also didn’t have as much effort, as many bands and as much loving presentation of the gospel as we might have had. Maybe next year will be better, Charlie Brown. Maybe so.