I went to two Christmas parades last weekend. Yes, that’s a lot of parading in one weekend, but it was worth it. I had a few laughs and came to realize that parades aren’t what they used to be.
When I was growing up, we would go to the annual university homecoming parade that marched right past my dad’s gas station. It wasn’t a holiday parade, but it was all we had. It was fun to see all the princesses and fancy floats and hear the bands. Then one year, when I was older, I had to be in the parade. No, I wasn’t a princess-I was in the band. That was my mother’s fault-she made me join to keep me out of trouble.
Fast-forward to the Christmas parades last weekend. I still wasn’t a princess and I certainly wasn’t in the one high school band that marched by while playing an actual Christmas song. I was just a spectator, but what I saw made me realize that parades have changed. It’s no longer about the people, floats, or bands; It’s about the candy. When did taking home bags, and I mean bags, of what used to be penny candy and bubble gum become the reason for the season? Don’t parade goers know that the only person happy about them eating all that junk is Hermey the Dentist who will have to repair the damage caused by too much sugar?
Candy distribution at the first parade consisted of paraders throwing handfuls of candy into the crowd. You’d think that kids would be the ones going after it, but in many cases, it was their parents and sometimes, their grandparents. After all, you have to be aggressive if you want all that free candy and sometimes, Junior just can’t muscle out his competitors to get that one Tootsie Roll that’s out in the street. “Come on boy,” I thought, “If you want it, go get it and let grandma sit in her lawn chair holding the first full bag of junk.” He obviously couldn’t hear me. He made grandma go get his fair share.
At the second parade, there seemed to be an unwritten law that prohibited throwing of candy. Paraders handed candy directly to parade goers. I never saw such a thing and after thinking about it, I’ve decided it’s either due to lawsuits or the ‘Everybody Gets a Medallion’ era. At some point in the past, Grandpa must have gotten run over by a hot ball and sued the parade sponsors. Or, Junior must not have been aggressive enough to reach Tootsie out in the street and his bag ended up being emptier than everyone around him. To make things fair, the law of candy distribution was changed so that every person has an equal chance of getting a piece of candy. Now Junior doesn’t have to rely on grandma or figure things out for himself-because everybody gets a medallion.
Yeah, parades aren’t about princesses, floats, and bands anymore. They’re about free candy and making sure everybody gets fair share-one way or another.