Here's the Scoop: Feb. 4, 2009

Marching to a different beat
I was invited to a parade the other day. A big one, so I was told.
Over the years, in this space, I have made a few comments noting how parades don’t really thrill me. Maybe it’s because I’m a big gum-chewer and, well, that doesn’t always mix well with marching for me.
For whatever reason, it’s usually a chore to get me to interrupt something fun like rinsing recyclables to head out for a little parade viewing.
Still, I agreed to go to this event — the belated Chinese New Year Parade in New York’s Chinatown. I wasn’t expecting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but was still prepared for something spectacular. So were the thousands of other folks who crammed the streets to watch the action.
I didn’t do any polling after the event, but I would say this parade confirmed my belief that I Don’t Love A Parade. I’m not trying to be critical. Just truthful.
I’m sure that considerable work went into organizing this parade. Maybe I was just expecting too much. Things got off on a bad note when the parade started late — I felt like I was at a rock concert.
Oddly enough, the first marchers were war veterans. It felt like dozens of Memorial Day events I’ve attended. But this parade was not meant as a somber occasion. It would be a celebration. And there would be dragons, that much I knew.

Haven’t I seen that before?
The dragons did follow. But dragons are not like snowflakes — they all look alike! I wouldn’t say the dragons were boring, just really, really similar. And small. Most dragons seemed to be about as tall as a 12-year-old — with a very tall head and a Rolling Stones-type tongue. And feathers. Real dragons, I think, don’t have feathers. Whatever. It was a parade license.
Mixed in with the dragons were assorted floats touting various banks and insurance companies. I’m quite certain these displays were constructed with Parade Bailout Funds.
There were probably other elements in the parade, but the dragon clones and the corporate floats stand out most in my memory.
The parade also included plenty of “pop” toys that made a slightly explosive sound and sent confetti flying high above the streets. These were pretty cool. Unless you were the one paying for these toys — prices varied from vendor to vendor.
The other part of this parade that really stood out was the crowd. There were a lot of people. All crammed behind police barriers to keep viewers out of the parade route.
As a general rule, I am not good with crowds. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that I prefer folks to be spread out across country miles.
This is not to say that we didn’t have a good time at the parade. It’s just that the crowd was far more interesting than the parade exhibitors. It was a very fun day.
The odd part of this experience was this big city event gave me greater respect for the parades we have locally. I guess I simply prefer the local flavor — and horse manure over dragon dung. I’m a country boy at heart.