Anyhoo, onto the parade posting!
My mother and I are very fond of parades. When I was seven or eight, and had just undergone my first surgery, I was unable to attend the local festivities. So, being who we are, we devised an alternative! I was installed on the couch in the family room and my father behind the television. Every time a float went by, my mother would signal to him, and he would toss candy. Not quite like the real thing, but a good story nonetheless!
Accordingly, when I learned that not only does New City hold a parade to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, I realized that it coincided with my mother's visit! We had to go.
Upon arrival downtown, Mother immediately purchased two green feather boas for eight dollars apiece. The vendor then raised the price to ten dollars. It was a different sort of experience than the ones back in the soy, where space is much wider and we lived but a few streets away. In New City, people stand so close to the marchers that sometimes you can't tell where the audience begins! One would expect such a large procession to contain more big float-like things. There were none of these here, but the number of people marching along was ginormous, to be sure! It seemed that less emphasis is placed on technical prowess or amazing displays, and more on good ol' participation.
In the crowd, where would we, two short people, go? There was a small green area on a slight hill that a business had chained off. The parade was probably a groundskeeper's worst nightmare. But do such flimsy barriers stop my parental unit? Oh heck no, dude, especially not when there's a most appealing bench up at the top! We were rebel trendsetters, apparently, for soon other people took up station with us. And the parade began!
It seemed as though hours passed as we cheered on random folks, several companies of firefighters, and more bagpipe bands than should be allowed to exist within one city's limits. We concluded that, based on our prior parade-going experience, the events were about to cease and we should go eat before everybody else did.
Mother wanted to go to a sandwich shop she had seen on T.V. once, one that is located in the Square. New City's Square is a poor approximation of what a town square once was in our society. It is square in shape, but lacks the hustle and bustle of a true town center ... or so I thought. When we got there, we discovered that not only were three out of four exits fenced off, but the entire collegiate population of New City was somehow contained within.
All the restaurants were serving alcohol in freakishly tall containers right outside their doors. People had clearly been there for many hours already. Drunk men gave me strange looks as though they either thought they recognized me but were too wasted to be sure, or they found it a serious challenge to read the text on my hat. Drinks were flowing freely, down drainpipes of all types. Even my little Mother had to show identification in order to gain access to our destination. We discovered that the shop had removed all of its tables and chairs, so it was standing room only in a most literal way!
After obtaining nourishment, we escaped the dense party pack and returned to the parade route. We discovered that the parade was actually still going on! It was at this point that I shot the last of my film.
Of course, this is when something really awesome happened. A high school band decided that it was damn well tired of marching in the street, so it grooved its way through the crowds on the sidewalk ... baton tossers, cheerleaders, drummers, trumpeters and all. I was out of freaking film! No way!
Inspired, I ran a block and a half to the nearest camera store and bought seven rolls of film. I think there had been some sort of "deal" or something, but I was in too much of a rush to make sure! My next goal was to catch up to the awesome band. I think I jogged/ran the entire last third of the parade route in pursuit! They were, unfortunately, quite well-behaved for the rest of the way.
The parade finally drew to a close, and now we just had to get home. A simple matter, since the buses had started to run again ... right? I've seen some packed buses in the year that I have lived in New City, but the vehicles on this day took the cake. The first one that went by was so packed, it didn't even slow down at our stop. The second bus was almost empty when it arrived, though that situation was quickly changed. There was such a lunge for the door, I actually snapped "Please don't push!"
The bus driver had Issues. Not just issues, or even "issues," but Issues. To suddenly be faced with many inebriated students was clearly not making her any happier. We pulled out of downtown at a fair pace, ignoring many stops, when suddenly, the bus jolted to a complete halt. Apparently, someone had used profanity during the course of conversation, and this was the final trigger. She shouted "That's it! You don't cuss on the bus! Everybody off the bus! Everybody off!" She was clearly not moving, so eventually some people got off in frustration. (They walked down two stops and got on the bus again.) We had been stationary for about ten minutes, and people were beginning to get antsy and irritated.
That's when the cops pulled up. Apparently, this red-faced angry woman had called the police, who sent in at least five or six officers. They got on the bus and proceeded to lecture the passengers (this did not help) for several minutes. More than a quarter hour after the bus driver had a conniption fit, we finally moved again ... with a freaking police escort. One officer stood at the front of the bus and glared imposingly at us all as we traveled.
Needless to say, my mother and I got off the bus much sooner than we otherwise would have! The remainder of our journey home was much less remarkable, as there is not much a public transportation company can do to top a demonstration by a crazy employee.