Thousands of people,
Nine of us,
And a parade.
It was another of my “life is the stories you can tell” schemes.
“I signed us up as volunteers for Ogden City’s Light Parade,” I told the family. “We get free sweatshirts and it will be fun.” Turns out, I was right. The sweatshirts were free and the event fun.
As (almost) always happens when I initiate a “life is the stories you can tell” event, I question my sanity. “Why did I do this,” I wonder. “It would be so much easier to stay at home…..SO MUCH EASIER!” Locating gloves (and boots and hats and coats), fielding food requests (What are we having for dinner?), juggling schedules (Can I please go bowling with my friends?), and finding energy to animate everyone (myself included)…..it becomes almost overwhelming. Thoughts like “What was I thinking?”, “I am a crazy woman!”, and “I wish I had never thought of this…” swirl in my cerebrum.
Every year, on the first Saturday after the year’s first Thanksgiving Day, Ogden City sponsors an Electric Light Parade. The parade starts after the sun sets, features over 50 floats decorated with festive Christmas lights, and ends in Ogden’s Christmas Village where Santa triggers the “on” switch and illuminates the town. As official, orange-vest clad and orange-flag carrying volunteers, our job was to walk the parade route beside our assigned float, keeping the float on the street and the children off of it.
Our volunteer training session (all 13 minutes of it) started at 3:00. The parade started at 5:30. We entertained ourselves with people (Lance makes friends with everyone), pictures (see below), and pizza (that’s what’s for dinner..).
Lance called Dominos. “Dominos delivers.” It turns out they don’t. They would not deliver unless given a specific street address; “the southwest corner of 21st and Washington” was not enough for them. “It’s our policy not to deliver unless given a specific street address because it is not safe for our drivers,” Lance was told. Lance looked at the two police cars parked in the intersection beside him and said “Okay”. Pizza Hut, on the other hand, does deliver. YUM!
We found our assigned floats and befriended them. Miles, who was too young to officially volunteer, volunteered to walk with David because David walked with the Chick-Fil-A float. In return for his efforts, he garnered five coupons for a free peppermint milkshake at Chick-Fil-A. David earned his sweatshirt (in addition to 8 milkshake coupons) as he valiantly (and somewhat successfully) kept hordes of children from mobbing the Chick-Fil-A cow. No one mobbed my float; I escorted three Truly Nolan Pest Control vehicles. Grace and her friend Rebecca led their float, dancing the entire parade route to the repeating tune of “All I Want for Christmas Is You”. Lance emceed his float as he walked the route, pausing every 100 meters or so to address the crowd. “Give it up for the WSU Latin Council,” he’d say. And they did, clapping obediently and enthusiastically.
At parade’s end we handed over our orange vests and flags, kept our green hoodies, and returned home, stopping at Chick-Fil-A on the way to redeem 9 coupons for free peppermint milkshakes. As my family sipped appreciatively and chattered excitedly I answered my own question. “Why do I did I do this?” For this….for excited chatter, for shared experiences, for memories that will last much longer than milkshakes, for stories to tell for generations to come, for the light I see in their eyes.
It was a great parade of lights and it ushered in a great season of lights; electric lights, candle lights, and Christ’s light. “Since a new star first appeared above Bethlehem, Christmas has been a season of light, reminding us that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. Together, we can celebrate His birth by making the world a brighter place. All we have to do is follow Him—His life, His example, and His teachings. In doing so, we can help #LIGHTtheWORLD.” (lds.org)
“Light the World” is a must-watch video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJmAV0gTp_Q, 2:37) with a must-do message. Watch it. Do it. This Christmas season, LIGHT THE WORLD. In 25 days. In 25 ways.