Ah, the Knoxville Christmas Parade. I really want to love you, really I do. But you make it so hard. It would be easy to give a pass to this year’s event. Conditions were pretty miserable from the outset, with a light rain falling at the beginning and the skies really opening up about midway through. In those conditions, it’s tough to hold a top-notch parade. Or even a middle-notch parade, which I’m afraid is where we fall.
Urban Woman made the call early that she and Urban Girl would watch the parade on television. I have to say the idea held some appeal. Of course, I had an obligation to you guys, so I wrapped my camera in a plastic grocery bag, stuffed it under my leather coat and set out. After securing a good cup of coffee at The French Market, I walked down the sidewalk and found that, with the light crowd, a good spot was easy to find.
I set up shop outside the Tennessee Theatre under their awning and stayed dry the entire time. The light crowd gave me an easy shot at each of the floats. A gentleman beside me struck up a conversation noting how ridiculous the fact that the awnings that once lined Gay Street were removed. He then launched into something about high taxes, government and later extolled the virtues of the Tea Party. No spot is perfect, right?
The floats are the big thing, of course, and I’m going to ignore them today and just focus on the non-float portions of the parade, of which there are many in this case. Some of the non-float parts are fine, but some of them seem pretty useless. There are always platoons of dancing/baton-twirling girls like the ones above and that seems fine as long as it doesn’t hit overload – and that’s something to pay attention to in many of the non-float categories. Enough of a good thing is enough and more of that is probably not good.
The Fire department is always welcome. Kids love the fire department and we all appreciate those guys. Vintage fire-trucks are fun and when horses are involved it’s even better. There were no horses this year, I suppose because of the weather. The fire department didn’t bring theirs and no one else rode one. Gunner didn’t show and, I suppose, it was because he will only agree to participate if he can ride a horse and look like a real cowboy.
I have to give props to the band from the Christian Academy of Knoxville – they were the only band to play in the parade. I can only assume there were others who withdrew at the last moment because of the weather. I’m not sure how smart it is to get expensive instruments out in the rain, but there they were, wrapped and protected as much as possible. Bands are an essential part of any parade, in my opinion, especially the drum corps. I appreciate them making the effort. If they were the only ones scheduled to participate, then parade organizers need to get busy on this for next year. More cowbell!
The biggest surprise in this year’s parade were the Star Wars characters. I’m not sure why they joined the parade and I can’t defend it given that they have nothing to do with Christmas, but I liked having them in there. We need some funky non-sense slipped in here and there.
Then there were random groups of walking people. Most were friendly, some waved and others carried flags. I suspect some held banners helpfully explaining their presence, but I know some of them didn’t. They just smiled and walked, waving as we went as if to say, “Yes, we are random, but we are festive! See us be festive?” I’m not saying it’s awful, just that it seems odd, to me. Maybe we should have an Urban Nation Walking Group for the parade next year.
One of the walkers who was clearly identified was Mayor Burchett. An entire truck rode in front of him with a banner proclaiming his presence. I’d prefer a more earth-friendly banner carrier, but it got the point across and on a dark, rainy night, he might otherwise have been missed. Despite whatever else might be said about the Knox County Mayor, you have to give him props for walking through the pouring rain. He didn’t look extremely happy, but maybe he was smiling inside. I, for one, appreciate the effort, Mr. Mayor.
Then there were random vehicles. Some of the vehicles came in groups: We’ve seen the corvettes and VW bugs before. There were also droves of Smart Cars of which I failed to get a picture. Mostly I was listening to my sidewalk friend who paused from discussing taxes to denigrate the little automobiles. I mentioned that small automobiles are all over Europe and he said he was sure they would be utterly destroyed on the German Autobahn.
The thing with the vehicles in the parade is that despite a little festooning, I’m not sure I get it. How many smart cars do you need before it becomes dumb, after all? I like Corvettes as much as the next guy and bugs are cute, but how many of each is enough? I’ll admit it wasn’t as overwhelming this year as it has been some, but this is one of the situations where a little goes a long way. Maybe each of the car groups could select their top five in a pre-parade contest.
A few of the vehicles carried some sort of celebrity – mostly DJs for local radio stations or beauty queens of some sort. I think I only saw about three Miss Somethings and that seems like a fair number. One year I think I counted seventy-three or something. I believe it was Miss Bulls Gap that put me over the top that year.
Some of the vehicles just plain irritated me. This big truck is a fine looking semi. I get that. It’s shiny and it’s affiliated with some company or another. It deserves to be admired on the interstate as it bulls up behind my Prius in an attempt to intimidate me. It has no place in a Christmas parade. I mean, we already have big trucks pulling all these floats. We don’t need more big trucks. Are we trying single-handedly to blow our own personalized hole in the ozone with the emissions from our Christmas parade?
Finally, there’s a cow. Now you might expect I would really trash this obvious commercial intrusion. Not at all. I mean “cattle were lowing” on that first night, right? Besides, Mayfield and their famous cow are a part of our local color. Urban Girl loves seeing the cow and well, a giant cow with Christmas lights is all the better, right? I give it a thumbs up.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the best floats of the year as Christmas Parade Review Week continues.