Monday, May 08, 2006

I Love a Parade

The May Day Parade yesterday was wonderful. The pre-parade people watching was half the fun. I had an artist sitting in my section of the parade route and after the street had been closed off he chalked "Welcome May Day" in big graffiti-fat letters in the middle of the street. Then he ran around giving everyone pieces of chalk to color in the words. The kids who got chalk started their own drawings, but the adults went to work. There was even a man wearing what looked like his church clothes--nice button down long-sleeve oxford and dress pants--squatting in the street joyfully  coloring  in the "Y" of "May."   Directly across from where I sat was a man in his mid  to late twenties blissfully tapping out a rhythm on his bongo drum. Arrayed in front of him on a blanket were several pieces of mystical artwork for sale. From time to time he would stop playing his drum and sit chanting or meditating. The only people who stopped to chat were young women. When one would approach his "I'm far away in Nirvana" look would instantly turn into a "I'm a gentle, wise soul interested in your enlightenment" look. And it worked. He only sold one or two pictures but I wonder how many phone numbers he got?   The parade was filled with puppets and creatively costumed people and music. It is amazing how good a troop of people with 5-gallon buckets turned into drums sounds. And the trombone players (no there weren't 76 of them and a few trumpets were sprinkled in) were great as was the New Orleans style jazz band that got everyone singing "You Are My Sunshine." Most of the musical groups were mixed adults and children and the kids kept up remarkably well.     But one of the best parts of the parade was the book people. Cardboard, paint and string have to be three of the world's greatest inventions. The book people made giant books. Some wore their book sandwich board style over their shoulders, others had them on wagons or carts. People without books were dressed as fictional characters. One person carried a sign with a list of banned and challenged books on it. And other people passed out bookmarks with Ben Franklin on them to the kids in the crowd. The book people chanted "read more books!" and tried to get the crowd to chant along. But the crowd didn't go for it. Maybe they were, like me, too busy trying to read all the signs and book covers walking by.   The book armada concluded with the indomitable knight, Don Quixote, ensconced on a cart between the Picasso painted covers of his giant book, dressed in a mish-mash of armor, and pushed by his faithful servant Sancho Panza. Since I sat at the end of the parade route, it was obvious Sancho was getting tired. But the knight goaded Sancho on by yelling appropriately G-rated encouragement. I hope that the compassionate Don Quixote bought the worn out Sancho a beer afterwards.