Today’s post will be dominated by photographs, but I’ll give you a few reactions to add to the mix. This was a bit of an odd experience for our family this year. First, the protest that started on Market Square and eventually mixed with the parade-goers drew my attention just before the parade and caused us to be late finding a spot close enough to the street that Urban Girl could see the action.
The spot we chose contributed to my biggest photographic fail in quite some time. We chose a spot with awful, harsh, yellow lighting. We couldn’t get close enough to the street for clean shots, but I didn’t have a vantage where I could photograph them from far enough back (could have used a wide-angle lens) that I could get the whole float. Next, we made sure that the back-drop included a construction chute, which always adds to the quality. Finally, I arrived with a battery which wasn’t charged enough to get to the end of the parade – so if you missed the parade, you won’t be seeing Santa here!
Ah well, we caught the Grand Marshall, Katie Armiger. I’m sure you all know that she’s a contemporary country singer, but she’d not hit my radar before. We immediately delved into non-Christmas/Winter/Holiday material with Darth Vadar and some sort of white warriors that I was assured are related somehow. I really need to catch up on popular culture before my next parade. Still, they were cool.
It seemed to me there were more high school bands this year and I think that’s great. Bands are one of my favorite parts of a parade and the more the better as far as I’m concerned. Particularly, there’s nothing like a good drum corp and we had several. It’s odd to me that UT doesn’t send a band contingent to the parade. And the cheerleaders and coaches, for that matter. Isn’t it odd that the University has little-to-nothing to do with the Knoxville Christmas Parade? Why not Smokey, if nothing else?
Even though my blurry pictures don’t necessarily show it, I think the floats were – on average – a bit better this year. Several groups showed good effort. They didn’t necessarily pretend to be about Christmas, but they reflected a lot of work. For the rest of you guys, come on, up your game. Sitting on a bale of hay and waving doesn’t qualify as a good float. And cars and boats are cool, but I cut most of those because we’ve all seen them and while they are cool, there are only so many I can take. And beauty queens from six to twenty-six-years-old: Same thing – how many do we need in a parade? Maybe it’s just me.
I found Mayor Burchett, but missed the city officials. I have to give it to him for always being around, walking through the parade. Not bad. I did run into a gaggle of city officials earlier, so I know they were there and planning to mount a float. It’s worth mentioning that the police were also about in large numbers, I think due to the presence of the protesters who had been shouting about shutting down Market Square, so I think the police were ready for problems, but nothing large happened.
Big points from the crowd around us and from our family went to the praise bands belting out Christmas tunes live. One of them played a very cool version of drummer boy (a song which seemed to run throughout the parade) we liked a lot. One Life Church and another I didn’t catch did a very good job. Not a drum corp, but still.
There were a few animals thrown in for good measure. Of course, there’s the mascot type: WIVK the Frog, Shoney Bear, Chik fil A cows, a lion of some sort and the huge Mayfield Cow. But there were also real animals – no horses, which I kind of miss. I really like horses in a parade. But there were dogs and one of my favorite pictures here is of the dog with the Santa on its back. I’m not a fan of the Pit Bull rescue being in a Christmas Parade, however. Call me an animal hater and generally bad human being if you like, but putting that breed in close proximity – literally inches from their faces at times – of children in a loud, confusing environment that makes many dogs nervous just seems unnecessary at the least.
The toy shop float was probably my pick for the best, though I would also say the Frozen float and the Ginger Bread float were good. Even though I probably should question their presence in a Christmas parade, I couldn’t help but like the Krispy Creme bus and imagining along with my daughter what it must smell like to ride on that bus. I also liked the Premier Bus just because I thought it looked classy/cool. The parade was also more racially diverse, which I liked. I don’t know if that was a coincidence or reflected a conscious effort, but I liked it.
When it was said and done, this felt like a bit of an improvement over past years. The weather certainly helped as it was as comfortable as a December night in Knoxville is ever likely to be. We had a great time. Urban Girl is five and believed every bit of it in her heart. And it’s hard not to like that. Next year I’ll try to bring you better pictures.