I’ve promised to tell you the parade story. So…. here you go.
First, you should read HERE to see who my boss was.
A few years ago, my boss tasked me with entering our local parade. No problem! I’m crafty, work wonders with glitter and adore all things holiday related.
I was not allowed to do a simple walk and entertain entry, rather I was asked to build, all on my own, a float. The theme: Christmas Around the World.
I came up with the idea of using part of our brand, a train. Each boxcar represented a different country, with the appropriate holiday greeting in the country’s native language on it, in the country’s colors. Inside each boxcar, country-specific clad children wave, throw candy…. the mascot and some elves walk beside said float and act all sorts of holly and jolly. There was a festive engine and an equally festive caboose. Holiday fun right?
Wrong. Very wrong.
Everything that could go wrong did as I created this float. Flood ruins your initial creations? Check. Workers from the parent company’s other business disassemble your float one week out because they are incredibly dense and think the parade is over? Check. The flatbed you are using to assemble the float gets its tires stolen? Check. Day of said event you are missing a mascot? Check.
I realize now this was a warning from above saying STOP! For the love of all that is festive….stop NOW! But did I listen? Of course not.
I worked crazy hours and single-handedly built the float, worked up country specific attire for each child, configured sound and movement for the float and found a new mascot…. hooray! We looked so adorable!
Here’s the problem: I didn’t know I had summoned up Satan and his friend for my float.
Before I continue, it’s relevant to the story for you to know that these awful children were my boss’ family – approximately 10 and 12 years old, large boys. And, they are representing the countries of France and Mexico. (I’m sorry Mexico. I really do still love you and visit you often. France, I’ve never seen you, but I apologize to you too.)
Children are all in their respective boxcars. Music is playing. Elves are geared up with candy, everyone looks merry and bright. We are off. And all goes well until about 5 minutes into the route. Dressed as an elf, I was walking beside the float ensuring all went according to plan. That’s when I see the Mexico and France boxcars moving…no….shimmying.
I speed up and see that the two boys are shoving each other from their respective boxcars. The little girls paired with the hoodlums in the carts look mortified. I give them the “do NOT make me come up there look”, which subsides them for a moment.
I continue on with the candy, and this is when I hear someone in the crowd scream “Oh my God! Mexico is choking out France!”
To my horror, I see one Mexico with his arm around the France’s neck, both mostly out of their boxcars….both boxcars very close to being ripped off the (I swear I nailed them in well!) platforms.
With ninja reflexes, I run and leap onto the platform. I separate the boys and put one in the engine, the other in the caboose. I jump in the Mexico cart with a very scared, crying child. I soothe her best I can.
Things seem to be going well until I hear this: “Miss! We lost a couple!”
I look back and see that my two twenty-something chaperones have wondered off. The kids they were supposed to be guarding as they walked? They are tiny specks of dust in the back. So…. I leap off the float.
I run to the back and see these kids walking aimlessly, chaperones are MIA.
Me: Where are your chaperones?
Kids: They left to talk to their boyfriends.
Me: Ok. Well, let’s pick it up, we are far behind.
Kids: We’re tired…..
Me: Come on! It’s fun! Plus the camera crew is up ahead! I jog in place and then run ahead a little, trying to encourage them to come forward.
The kids do not move.
At this point, I see the caboose and the engine start to fall over.
I grab the smallest of the kid under my arm and the other one by the arm. I go running, kids in tow, dead sprint toward the float which is teetering precariously.
Just as I make it to the float, the caboose blows a side and the two boys tumble out. This knocks Germany and the US. Germany and the US jump out of their boxcars and jump inside of the Mexico cart, with the girl who is wailing loudly again.
I drop the kid from my arms and threaten that if they get behind again, I will not rescue them and they will have to get to the end the best way they know how.
I leap onto the float, again, as it’s going up a very steep hill. This is bad. Very bad. Perhaps it was the momentum I used to get onto the float, matched with the incline, but suddenly I go rolling back, the kids out of their carts go rolling back. At this point, divine intervention smiled upon me. I was able to jump up, elf hat mostly in tact, strong arm all children to safety and maintain complete composure as we emerged all tinsel and bright smiles in front of the cameras.
Me: under my breath, whilst holding a hoodlum boy in each arm : Smile and wave like good children or I swear I will throw you down and sit on you for the remainder of the ride.
Kid 1: I’d like to see you try that. You weigh less than he does.
Kid 2: Asshole, did you just call me fat!?!
Shoving ensued. Then, this elf went down! I instinctively reached out, grabbed kid 2 by the pressure point in his ankle and he went down like a brick. I stood up, straightened my elf hat, and gave the look of death to kid 1.
Kid 2: OWWWWWW. I’m telling daddy on you.
Kid 1: Dude. She looks evil. Shut up!
Kid 2: But my ankle hurts.
No more happy cheery elf self. If I could have gotten by with it, I would have tossed both of them off the float while laughing gloriously.
Me: in a stern voice that even kind of scared me: Ok. Here’s how this is going to go. You (kid 2) go to the engine. I do not want to see you as much as think of looking back or I swear to God Almighty it will be the last thing you do today. YOU (kid 1). Sit in Mexico. Do not look anywhere but at the crowd. You wave, you smile and if you make Sally cry one more time I will embarrass you so badly that you will never find a date as long as you live here. (Small town advantage – all his classmates were there.)
I then sat in the France boxcar and acted as a buffer between the two boys. Each time I heard a movement from Mexico, I’d politely lean over and put my hand on his shoulder. That kept him quiet, thankfully. And the engine kid? He fell asleep. I was ok with that.
At the end, we had all kids accounted for, save for the two chaperones. And… we won first place in our category! I pocketed that $200 and went straight to the bar. Luckily, the bosses didn’t ask me where that money went. I think they realized I earned every penny of the $200 after the parade ride from hell when they saw my bedraggled elf self exit the parade route.
And that, my lovelies, is why I have PTSD if you ask me to be IN a parade again.