Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Parade Update Post

Hello parade fans, I have been to see for myself the state of parental blockage on the marching band front. Yes, I attended the 112th Victoria Day parade in our fair city along with an estimated record crowd of 65,oo0. If that estimate is to be believed then about one in five Victorians came out to watch what is a spectacle that may not be so bad as to be "ridiculous", as one loyal reader has tagged it, but is less than awe-inspiring.

However, the marching bands are fun to watch and do inspire. The youth giving it their all to put on a show is always great to see. I know for a fact that one other loyal reader who poo-poos parades is a big fan of high school musicals. I think the marching bands and musicals have some of the same positive characteristics. Enough about debating the merits of the parade itself though, as the real argument is why the heck are parents out there getting in the way of their children's performance?

I watched a good dozen U.S. bands and three Canadian ones go by on Monday. I am happy to report that the Canadian bands had no noticeable parental escorts. The U.S. bands too were mostly escort free. I did see one band that had at the back of the band a group of about fifteen parents, dressed in the same colours as the band and marching in step with the band while carrying water for when it was needed. While I still argue this is unnecessary, at least this was a cute way of dealing with it and didn't involve blocking the view.

There were two bands that had parents walking alongside and obstructing the crowd's view and enjoyment of their band. One band in fact stopped in front of me, so did one of the parents and there she stood directly in front of me as the band played. I mean she wasn't fat or anything so I could see most of the band, but still it was not very aesthetically pleasing. You've got these bands all gussied up in their marching uniforms to look sharp and here's this mom in a t-shirt and jeans standing between them and the audience with her water bottle at the ready. Now that's ridiculous.

Meanwhile, the 85 year old guy carrying the flag as part of the Canadian Legion marching group grinds it out to the end without any water at all. I guess that guy's mom is a neglectful parent.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Preemptive Strike Post

Hello A & A fans! Alert reader Guy has pointed out that I am falling behind on my posts. Have no fear, I've got plenty of annoyances left to regale you with. This time I'm hoping to head one off at the pass. It has to do with parades, and maybe if I get it off my chest now, it can prevent what is sure to rear its ugly head at my town's big parade this weekend. I can only dream that such is the power of A & A.

What's the problem with parades you ask? Well I'm glad you did. The problem is with the parents of high school marching bands. Or I should say the parents of members of high school marching bands. I have noticed a disturbing trend the last few times I attended a parade (which admittedly has been a few years now, so maybe somebody has fixed this problem - this weekend will be the test). This trend is new since my marching band days in the late 70's and early 80's.

The parents of the big American marching bands (which I quite enjoy watching) now walk alongside the band as it makes its way along the parade route. They walk between the band and the spectators. This not only blocks your view as a spectator at times, but completely detracts from the aesthetic quality of the band. And why are these parents there? Apparently to dole out water and mist the band members.

I admit it took some searching to find an example on Youtube, but here it is. Check out from 1:00 to about 1:40.

Now I know in this day and age everyone believes that hydration is important, but this is Canada in May. It is rarely hot, and even if it is, the parade route is not that long. For my American friends you can expect the temperature to be in the 70's if you are lucky and once in awhile it might make it to the 80's. Not exactly scorching and the route is a mere 1.8 miles. If these kids can't make it 1.8 miles without being spritzed and fed water bottles then something is wrong.

Before all you kidney stone victims write in to correct me about the pratfalls of dehydration, I offer the following compromise. If there really is danger to these kids and they need this kind of support, then how about the parents walk along behind the crowd and emerge at strategic points to disperse their life saving H2O.

I have one marching band anecdote from my days in high school. We were in the local parade and our drummer (who sets the pace) had to get to a tennis tournament. We were the first entry in the parade and he just had us bombing along. About halfway through the parade the marshall made us stop. We looked back and the military marching group after us were right behind us, but after that there as a gap that you couldn't see the end of as the rest of the parade was more than two blocks back and around a corner. We waited five minutes for the parade to catch up.