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Helladay Parade

There’s a small city called “Battle Creek” about 50 minutes from my house. It’s the home of Kellogg and Post, making it the “Cereal Capital of the World.” It has about 60,000 people and puts together a lot of neat functions for its downtown. We decided to check out its annual holiday parade on Saturday night, since we’ve enjoyed its International Festival of Lights in the past.

Man, it was horrible. For starters, it began fifteen minutes late, which is a pretty big deal when it’s dinner time (the parade was supposed to start at 5:40) and it’s cold (55 degrees when the sun was up; much colder once the sun went down). They then started the parade with a shload of fire trucks (plus a few ambulances and police cars). I think there were 14 fire trucks alone; Marie says there were at least 16. And most of them were honking their horn, which is simply a loud and obnoxious noise. Who likes to hear a fire truck horn honk intermittently for twenty minutes? I’d rather listen to an ape emit digestive gasses. I jumped so many times, I was exhausted by the time the fire truck brigade ended and the real parade began.

The parade itself wasn’t absolutely horrible, but it wasn’t very good and, given that we’d been sitting there for almost 45 minutes with nothing but jangled nerves and cold hands to show for it, I wasn’t highly receptive. They had some neat floats, but they had more motorcycle brigades with screaming engines (my nerves, my ears, my nerves) than marching bands (only two, but maybe more came after we left “early” after nearly an hour and a half). They were also horrible about handing out candy, for some reason repeatedly bypassing my three little kids for the, um, animated children (okay, ill-behaved, hyperactive brats) on either side of them. Finally, they had virtually no Christmas music. Most of the floats weren’t playing music at all, and if they were playing music, they were more likely to be playing pop music (one float featured a pleasant Dickensian scene, combined with Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”–if you can draw the connection, please let me know).

So, if you live in SW Michigan and are thinking about attending the holiday parade in Battle Creek next year, consider this a fair warning. Stay home and watch football.

Memo to Battle Creek: One fire truck, one police car, one ambulance. That’s plenty. More marching bands. I know it’s hard to get marching bands (I worked on my town’s parade for a few years), but get ’em. More holiday music. Fewer motorcycles. Start on time. End it in 75 minutes. If you implement those simple changes, next year’s parade will be much better.