A few thoughts on parades ...
McCOOK, Neb. — I've seen a lot.
I've been to many, many, many parades in 36 years as a reporter and I've complained every year about the sourpusses in parades — those unsmiling float riders, horseback riders, dog walkers, cheerleaders, flag corps members, drum majorettes, etc.
It should be a rule that if you're in the parade — you must smile. YOU. MUST. SMILE. Fake it if you have to.
Sometimes there's a problem with parents who grab the candy for their kids. At a couple parades, I've watched parents actually race into the street to get the tiny bits of sugar BEFORE kids can reach it.
And the candy left over after a parade. Kids seem to want only the really substantial candy, because they very often leave behind the chewy, two-bite wrapped penny candies. (Don't they realize that what they don't eat now can be passed out as Halloween candy in a couple months?)
And pennies … you can hear an audible "ugh" from ungrateful kids when someone throws pennies from the parade.
And then the trash — all those candy wrappers left behind for the street sweepers. Parents need to teach their kids, starting at a young age, to protect the world they'll inherit by throwing their trash away appropriately. And, good heavens, don't expect someone to always pick up after you.
And please, don't throw your goodies from your parade entry in the middle of the street. (McCook's parade will not allow candy to be thrown from the float; it's a rule if you want to be in the parade.) Have someone walk close to parade spectators gathered on the sidewalks. Toss the candy underhand or actually place it in the kids' outstretched hands. How many near-accidents have we had when kids rush out into the street for candy — in front of a huge fertilizer sprayer in one parade … in front of horses in another. Where are their parents?!(Don't be fooled. There is no such thing as a "bomb-proof" horse. Their natural instinct is to be cautious and vigilant.)
But now, I think I've seen the epitome of parade misbehavior. On a float during a community celebration this summer, one of the float riders ignored parade spectators and was on her cell phone. ON THE FLOAT … talk about rude!
Parade participants and parade watchers need to learn some simple parade etiquette — If you're in the parade, smile throughout the whole parade route. Fake it till your face breaks, or at least until the end of the parade. If you're watching the parade, let the kids have the candy. Throw away the candy wrappers. And leave your cell phones in your pockets.
Oh, and just one fun suggestion (and I did see it one year, at the Medicine Creek Days parade in Cambridge) — the last float in the parade should always be a dentist passing out tooth brushes and tiny tubes of tooth paste!