pelting Tootsie Rolls at clamoring children

On Wednesday night, I was walking down Greenwood, pelting candy at the heads of children.

I was asked to do this.

For the first time in my life, I appeared in a parade. The Greenwood Seafair parade, to be exact. Most years, I have little to do with Seafair, other than craning my neck at the unexpected shrieking of the Blue Angels flying over my head on practice runs. But this year, I marched with this group, affiliated with this national writing center, founded by this young master of irony and internet tendencies. It’s a good organization, and I’m one of the volunteer teachers. Or rather, I will be, once the tutoring center, with the space supplies store out front, opens its doors in the fall at 85th and Greenwood

So a group of us disparate writers gathered on 101st and Greenwood, in the surging Seattle heat, somewhere around 6 pm. We all met each other, happily, warily, ironically. We donned t-shirts with the telescope icon on front, and “Don’t forget to write” on the back. We exchanged ideas and quips. Mostly, we tried not to complain about the fact that the parade seemed to not be going anywhere for nearly an hour. And that the Sultan marching band and drill team, dressed in green polo shirts and pressed white slacks, practiced Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” incessantly behind us.

Finally, we began moving. Pirates (most of whom seemed to be drunk, honestly) bellowed from their pirate ship on wheels, passing us with impunity. The Baby Dangerettes, the drill team made up of four-year-olds, kicked their pom-pommed cowboy boots and gleamed their smiles. The baton twirlers in front of us–ten little girls and one awkward ten-year-old boy–threw their silver sticks in their air to the Mission Impossible theme, and “Great Balls of Fire,” over and over again. And the obviously overheated mascot for this improbable team worked the crowd into a frenzy by just showing up. I didn’t know that Seattlites were that excited about hockey in July.

We marched, our little, bedraggled group, gainfully waving at the large crowd sitting on the curbs. Two of our members held up a banner (sadly, it was vertical, and thus improbable for a parade), with the words 826 Seattle and the telescope icon. Whenever I saw an adult staring at us, with head cocked sideways, and a confused look in her eyes, I ran over and gave her a lime-green brochure.

Still, it wasn’t the same as candy. One of my fellow writers had a booming, side-show-carny voice, and he yelled at the clamoring kids, “Who wants sugar?” It was strange to see how much the kids were willing to prostitute themselves for a Tootsie Roll. “Me! Me! Me!” they would shout up and down, their faces already smeared with chocolate.

We quickly ran out of literate brochures and just gave in to the tenor of the day. Who wants a blue raspberry Jolly Rancher? Melting Butterfinger? A smooshy Snickers bar? Oddly, middle-aged men with large moustaches seemed to want the candy most.

So it was fun. And strange. All for a good cause. You should check it out.

But the Seafair clowns still scare me.

2 Comments so far

  1. Joe (unregistered) on July 30th, 2005 @ 12:19 pm

    On Wednesday night I was sitting in my backyard near Greenwood listening to the blast of sirens followed by sounds of a crowd screaming their lungs out. Since it was Wednesday, the possibility of a parade didn’t enter my mind. I wondered if perhaps Godzilla wasn’t marching down Greenwood eating pedestrians by the handful.

    Seafair’s here…go figure.

  2. naiah (unregistered) on July 30th, 2005 @ 3:25 pm

    Seafair. Godzilla. What’s the difference?

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