One of my coworkers moonlights as a Duckboat Tour operator here in Seattle. I’ve yet to have the opportunity to take one of these tours, but it’s way up there on my to-do list. Just riding in a vehicle that leaves the street then plunges into the water, then later drives back out again, would be worth the price of admission.
So when he posted on his Facebook page that he’d be driving a duck in Seattle’s annual Macy’s Holiday Parade the day after Thanksgiving and that he needed passengers, I was jumping up and down. “Me! Me!”
The only real down side, aside from the fact that it was bitter cold and raining out, was that we had to meet at the “nest”, where they keep the ducks, no later than 6:50 in the morning. But still, I was excited. I had seen plenty of parades in my lifetime, but I’d never actually been in one.
I have to say it’s a different experience entirely. After we drove to the staging area and jockeyed for our position amongst a great deal of confusion, there was even more waiting than the spectators experience. The parade wasn’t to begin until 9:00. But the time passed quickly because it was extremely surreal. Clowns and penguins and snowmen were wandering in the rain, some without their costume heads on, looking dazed and confused. Polar bears conferred on the sidewalk. Balloon floats alternately sagged and perked up and bumped into each other. I honestly couldn’t imagine how this chaos would turn into a parade, but somehow it did.
On the duck we were given a choice of Santa hats or antlers to wear. I went for the antlers. You can never have too many antlers. They were playing some of the funniest ever Christmas music full blast, and we started singing along and rocking out. Santa stopped by to say hello on his way to his place of honor in the back, and high school marching bands started streaming past, looking wet, miserable, determined and excited by turns.
And then we were off. And suddenly everything made sense and went off like clockwork. It was really amazing. And I’ve got to hand it to Seattleites. The streets were packed in spite of the freezing rain, and it kind of made you feel proud. It also made me feel even more obligated to give them a good show, so I waved and smiled at every little kid I saw as we boogied on down the road. I even spotted two really nice women I had met at Thanksgiving the night before, and that was really fun. “Look at me! I’m in a parade!”
And the energy that was directed back at us was amazing. People were so happy and excited to see us! For the first time in my life I got a little taste of what it must feel like to be famous, and it is without a doubt addictive as hell. I didn’t want it to end. More please. What a rush! I was grinning in spite of myself. And I was thrilled to see a reflection of us in a department store window.
And then abruptly it was over. Balloon floats deflated, characters pulled off their heads, and band members scattered to the four winds. And naturally we were caught in a float jam of epic proportions.
But eventually we made it back to the nest 4 hours after we had left, still high on adrenaline and rather pleased with ourselves. I will never view a parade the same way again. Each one is a miracle of coordination and teamwork and patience. This was a delightful experience that I’ll always remember. What a fabulous way to kick off the holidays!