My family and I live in Pflugerville, which is a town of about 40,000 people located adjacent to Austin on the north side of town. Most would call it a suburb, although many recent developments (such as the addition of two major toll roads) promise to bring our town a bit more of its own identity.
The "downtown" Pflugerville area is quaint and small, with a fire station, a couple of cute stores, antiques, a coffee shop, a European-themed restaurant (?), church, city hall, a BBQ place, Mexican restaurant, post office, and the the Prague market, which sells a wide array of crystal gift items and lamps (pictured at right).
There is a nice park/creek system in our town, and it does have a nice feel overall, even though much of what comprises the remainder of town is really just a bedroom community for Austin. We have lived here in this area for about 12 years now, having purchased our first two homes in Pflugerville.
Each year, the city promotes and supports several events, including Deutschen Pfest and their Christmas Parade of Lights and Holiday Stroll. Although we have been to the German festival a couple of times, we had not yet attended the Christmas Parade.
After taking the kids last night, this is a mistake that we won't make again. It was lame with a capital "L".
We were talking about taking them to see the parade and it sounded fun, since we have not ever seen a parade with them other than the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. I wasn't sure if they would be interested, but I mentioned it to my six-year old daughter Aleah, and she disappeared for about a minute and reappeared fully dressed and ready to go. You must understand – this is a VERY rare occurence for her. Usually, getting my kids to get dressed on their own without prompting is very much like getting me to sit through a screening of "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert". It might happen, but I won't like it very much and you will have to nag me throughout the process. I was the same way about getting dressed when I was a kid (and about bathing and not sleeping), so I guess I deserve to get the same treatment from my children.
So, the flyer we received said that the parade would start at dusk. Since it is getting dark by around 6pm, we figured we should try to get there by 5:30 or thereabouts. Apparently, the people in charge of the parade meant "dark" not "dusk". After much anticipation and despite the pleas of my children to go home, the parade started around 6:40, as I recall. By 6:43, I was ready to leave, too.
Here are the "parade" items that I remember seeing, along with my sarcastic commentary:
- A politician with a sign on his truck waving – no Christmas lights or other fanfare, just a dude in a friggin' truck
- A black corvette adorned with a string of lights on top – the couple inside looked happy enough, but what the heck? I sang "Little Black Corvette, baby you're much too fast" as they went by. If you know me at all, you know that I am not kidding.
- Some ladies wearing reindeer antlers walking with girls wearing similar antlers – WOW!
- A float that prompted my wife to remark, "That looks like something my grandfather would have made in the 70's." This was among the better entries, and as I was looking at the Christmas-themed items, I noticed two disturbing silhouettes among the revelry. There was a cutout of a guy lying on the ground with a rifle (sniper style) and another one of a man aiming a gun in the air (dangerously close to Frosty, I might add). It turns out it was for some gun club. What the…?
- An insurance man in an old-timey red pickup – need I say more?
- An extremely disorganized Brownie troop with two disheveled and upset-looking moms. I truly felt bad for them, as it appeared that they were told about the parade earlier that evening and forced to come up with something.
Of course, I also saw one of the coolest parade vehicles ever – a Delorean with the wing-doors open, a la "Back to the Future". My wife and I both sang "Back in Time" by Huey Lewis and cheered a little bit. After that, it was pretty much all downhill. I wish that the Delorean had a flux capacitor so that I could go back to 5:15pm and enjoy playing a board game with my family rather than enduring this charade (I meant to say parade – sorry).
In a turn of the tables, my wife and I began to beg the children to leave. They did get a couple of pieces of candy from the gun-float folks and the reindeer ladies, so it wasn't a complete wash. This was enough enticement for them to want to stay a bit longer.
Sadly, it made me feel less in the holiday spirit with the rampant sponsorships and political guy. I told my wife that this was the type of parade that you attend if your child is in it. There was no music of any kind, and the delay between the various vehicles and people was stupendously long. After the "Smokey and the Bandit" wannabe drove past (third car in the parade), and after waiting for about two solid minutes for another feature to appear, I said to my wife, "And that's all for tonight, folks. Thanks very much for coming out." This was about 35 seconds after it started.
Note to self – find a decent parade next time.
Interestingly enough, my son made a hilarious comment, "Dad, are you going to write about the parade in your blog?" I told him that I probably would, and then he asked, "Are you going to write that I asked you about that in your blog, too?"
Like father, like son.