A Kid’s Dream in the 1980′s
I remember quite fondly watching the Thanksgiving parades on television when I was a kid, and asking my grandparents (who I was living with at the time) for a chance to see the parade live one year (this would have been either 1983, 1984, or 1985). Surprisingly, instead of obliging, I got a nice lecture about how I didn’t want do that, I’d get squashed by the crowds. Through my middle and high school years I lived much farther away from downtown and our family usually had Thanksgiving “dinner” closer to lunchtime.
The Great Thanksgiving Morning Adventure of 2009
So fast forward to 2009. I’m grown up, and the only thing that might stop me from actually going is the overbearing urge to sleep in. Or, maybe not; last night, I said, I’m doing this, and I set my alarm clock for an insanely early time (just before 6am). So here I am, dashing out the door at 7:28am on Thanksgiving Day, to watch the parade.
I arrive downtown at approximately 8:01am at the corner of Milam and Texas (after convincing the bus driver that yes, that corner is his route’s stop), and proceed eastward toward the parade route. Three errant drivers had parked on Texas in clear defiance of the “no parking” signs; at least two tow truck drivers had no problem taking care of that problem.
The crowds were not the mob scene my late grandfather would have convinced me they were, at least not this year. However, finding a good spot even with most of an hour prior to the parade proved rather difficult. I brought my camera (I’m finally getting back into taking pictures) so I wanted a spot where I could get at least decent pictures. I finally found that spot at the southeast corner of Texas and San Jacinto, with about a half-hour to go until the scheduled parade start time of 9am.
The lead of the parade passes by us at maybe 8:51am or thereabouts; some in the crowd speculated that was for TV and/or due to inevitable pauses for performances by marching bands, drill teams, etc.
I can now say from experience: it’s just not the same sitting at home watching it on TV. Yes, it’s much colder than it would be in one’s living room, but to me, that’s also part of the excitement and experience. I had on my Via Colori T-shirt, but my jacket was fully zipped up the whole time, so nobody would have known what was under it.
I did have to take a couple of breaks during a lull in the action and shake out my right hand so I could actually continue feeling things with it, including but obviously not limited to the shutter button on the camera. And yes, I have pictures of most everything that passed by, which will get uploaded soon after the Via Colori pictures. (Incidentally, as of this writing, about half of those are on Flickr now, just not publicly viewable.)
Appearances included (and this is a long list
that’s still not complete):
- Houston Police Department color guard
- Harris County Sheriff’s Department
- Mayor Bill White
- Representative Shiela Jackson Lee
- several fire department vehicles: Camp David, Plymouth Rock, and Houston (the with banners encouraging participation in the 2010 Census)
- three vehicles from Yellow Cab
- HPD Mounted Patrol
- Sunny 99.1
- Willowridge High School
- Elsie’s Little Red Express from Borden
- two groups of Shriners, one with small go-karts, one on motorcycles
- X-Treme Dance, dance/cheerleading school from Humble
- Wells Fargo
- 93.7 The Arrow
- MacArthur High School band, cheerleaders, and drill team
- Houston Chronicle (star-on-wheels and balloon)
- a mobile disco bus sponsored by Carnes Funeral Home
- HEB (two floats, vegetable costume characters, plus a shopping cart brigade, plus several banners)
- “The Sound Of Music” float from Theatre Under The Stars
- Radio Disney AM 1590
- Houston Rockets float with Clutch
- Falun Dafa
- Atrich (?) cake balloon
- Budweiser with horse-drawn carriage
- Star Wars characters from the 501st Legion
- Pink Panther balloon
- Booker T. Washington Senior High band and drill team
- a Blues Brothers tribute (someone buy these guys a new speaker for next year)
- Ambassadors International Ballet Folklorico
- roller skaters, possibly representing Houston Roller Derby (can someone confirm?)
- Trinity Valley Community College band and drill team
- Miss Piggy float
- Salvation Army float
- Clowns, sponsorship unknown
- McDonald’s (giant red shoe float with Ronald McDonald inside)
- Houston Aeros (with mascot)
- KHOU-TV Channel 11 float
- Pancho Claus
In retrospect I should have put this on the monthly LOVIEE, at least. That’s a slip-up that I won’t repeat in future years. If you’ve never seen a parade like this live, make plans to attend next year. Consider using public transit (either METRORail or the buses). The pedestrian traffic was enough to fight through on the way out; I saw several cars queued up on Main Street while I whizzed by inside the train.
I can’t think of much else I would have done differently other than get grandstand tickets. I’ll have to make that a priority for next year’s holiday budget. I did have a great experience viewing from the street but it was not without disadvantages.
There really is nothing like actually being there. I can now say it from experience.
Congratulations to HEB and everyone who was a part of the parade for a job well done! If you are in Houston the parade will re-air on KHOU-TV Channel 11 at the following times:
- November 29 at 4pm
- December 13 at noon
- December 19 at noon