Friday, December 12, 2008

We Love a Parade!

We have been attending the post-Thanksgiving holiday parade in downtown Portland for years now, since Chris was little. In fact, my mom used to attend the parade when she was a child. It used to be sponsored by local department store Meier & Frank, but a few years ago M&F was acquired by Macy's. So now it's the Macy's Holiday Parade.

The Robert Gray Middle School Marching Band has been marching in the parade for years, and this year was to be no exception...until they were informed that Macy's had made the decision to cut the three middle school bands to make room for more Macy's floats. Instead, they offered that the students could march in Macy's provided costumes alongside the floats. (While the company continued to maintain that they supported the local community...) Not many Portland public schools even have strong music programs any more, and very few middle schools have marching bands.

Macy's capitalist-motivated decision resulted in an outcry from angry parents (including me) and unhappy kids. A day after the news broke, Macy's capitulated and said that the kids could march, but they'd have to go BEHIND Santa (the finale) and would probably not be on TV. A few days after that, they relented again and said the kids could march right in front of Santa. Hooray! Parent power!

I have to agree that the parade was snazzed up this year because Macy's did have a number of themed floats with costumed characters marching alongside. It was definitely more commercial, though. Chris had fun marching, and he even got on TV! (see the end for photos)

Next year Macy's has announced its intention to hold AUDITIONS for its marching bands, which means that they're trying to find a less-unpopular way to edge out the middle schools, who of course will not be able to compete with the high schools. Personally, my favorite part of parades has always been the marching bands, but I guess at Macy's they prefer the floats. Bah humbug!

Commercialism on display...the beginning of the parade

Tree, ornaments, and presents

One of the highly talented and hard-working marching bands!

Mike and Kieran

A fire truck!!

Said fire truck--the absolute best part of the parade, in Nick's opinion!

Assorted dogs

Beehive and cute bees

Wells Fargo stagecoach

Ride 'em cowboy!

This is the most popular band in Portland, a huge group of adults who marched in bands, twirled flags, or swayed flags when they were younger--and do so in every Portland parade. They specialize in that classic "Louie, Louie." We know a couple people in the band, but neither of them were marching that day. They have so much fun...watching them always makes me wish I was a former band marcher and could join them! According to their web site, they are the world's largest marching band!

Apparently these were Gray Middle School students in the dinosaur costumes (we heard this later on the taped TV broadcast when we got home)

Love those bagpipes! (and men in kilts...)

The Oregon Ballet Theater Nutcracker entry

Can you tell I (and Portland) love bagpipes? Another bagpipe band...

Festive llamas--tons of them!

Clowns, clowns, and more clowns!

These are for you, Amy--the Mini parade! Too bad you moved to Boise, or this could have been YOU! (I know you too are a parade lover!)

Here comes the best-little-marching band in the whole parade, from Robert Gray Middle School!! :)
Chris' band teacher, Ms. Berg--who has an excellent reputation for music teaching excellence!
There's our little cutie!

Chris played the maracas in both the Macy's parade and the Veteran's Parade earlier in November, because there are so many drummers and not enough drums to go around--and as a 6th grader, he doesn't have seniority. We figured starting out LIGHT might not be a bad way to go for his first longer parades.
We are crossing our fingers that Gray gets to march next year, too, or we just might have to boycott the parade!!

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