The Optimists Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I Love A Parade
Submitted by: Gord LeFevre
Another entertaining word romp from tenor drummer Gord Lefevre on the July 1st Canada Day Parade in Cambridge, Ontario
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so it is said. I think Confucius may have been involved in one too many Year-Of-The-Rat parades and created this saying to motivate himself for the annual street parade celebrating the Chinese New Year. Unfortunately, while we waited to enter the Canada Day parade, I was unable to inspire myself with this Confucian gem of rational thought due to the fact that all the cycles of my brain were fully consumed with a litany of questions about the parade: Is two kilometers on foot longer than two kilometers in a car? How much of the route is up hill? How much water do I need to drink before the parade starts? Will there be cold beer at the end of the parade? Will I need to give O'Halloran mouth-to-mouth? What am I doing here?My memories of parades aren't pleasant. There were extreme conditions to overcome -- either you were freezing your filberts off doing a Santa Claus parade in November in Sutton, Ontario, or sizzling like a drop of water on a hot skillet over a 5 1/2 mile parade route replete with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus in July in Waukeegan (birth place of Jack Benny and suburb of Milwaukee), Wisconsin. A fun parade is an oxymoron if there ever was one. Nevertheless, in retrospect, I can truly say I had fun and excitement at the Canada Day parade.
I noticed that something special happened at the Canada Day parade, something that had happened at GAS as well: Scout House and the Toronto Optimists encouraging each other with enthusiastic clapping and words of inspiration. This is sportsmanship at its best and I am happy to be part of it. This is helping me to understand that it's all about the performance and showmanship and that it's not a tick-down competition for 10ths of a point. It's about putting on the best show you can for the audience, enjoying and recognizing other Alumni Corps performances and having a ton of fun and enjoyment in the process.
Incidentally, I was totally impressed by Scout House, by their size, by their colour guard, by their bearing and by their discipline. What an awesome sight they were as they marched proudly up the side street to position themselves to enter the parade. It recalled a conversation I had with Gord O'Halloran in which he told me that Scout House's discipline and organization set the standard for the up-and-coming Optimists of the late 1950s.
As we moved out from the side street onto the main drag of Cambridge to our street beat, I was pleasantly surprised by the warm and enthusiastic response we received from the crowd. But before I could appreciate this fully, we were into the roll-off and our first song. From then on, I didn't notice too much as I was concentrating on playing, on keeping in step, on dressing the line. Actually, when I think about this some more, I'm not being entirely accurate here. I do remember passing a pub on the right side of the street and had to stop myself from doing a right oblique into it. I also remember someone in the snare line giving a heads-up to check out the lady in the orange halter top on the left side of the street. Isn't it amazing how the mind is able to multi-process!
Overall, despite some of our warts, I thought we put on a decent showing that we can be proud of. Not bad for one practice in a parking lot that doubles as an artillery practice range. I must admit, by the time we reached that Hill (perhaps it was a slight incline?) at the end of the parade route, I was starting to run out of gas but I was refueled by the presence of Scout House waiting for us to finish the parade and by the thought that there would be cold beer somewhere within the confines of the park. Ric Brown reaffirmed my faith in humanity. He had the foresight to have his wife move their van, stocked with a cooler of iced brown pops, to a location in the park near the area where the parade finished. Needless to say, I was able to utilize my pathfinder skills to locate the van.
Does it get any better than this on parade? Bring on the next one!